2019 RMASFAA Conference: Call for Proposals


Hello RMASFAA!

Just a friendly reminder that the Program Committee is taking program proposals for the 2019 RMASFAA Conference that will be held in Billings, MT! Please take a few minutes out of your day to complete the program proposal form to either indicate a session you would like to present or would like to see at the upcoming conference.  All completed program proposal forms should be returned by April 12, 2019 to Janet Riis at the email listed on the form.

Thank you so much for your feedback and ideas!

MT406RMASFAA

Janet Riis and Valerie Curtin

2019 RMASFAA Conference Program Co-Chairs

 

2019 RMASFAA Conference Program Proposal

Owl Post: SI Scholarship App Due today!


The RMASFAA Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DI) is sending this friendly reminder to submit the Summer Institute Scholarship application today. The scholarship covers the Summer Institute registration fee and assists recipients with travel expenses. The scholarship is intended for individuals who work to promote equity and inclusion on their campuses. This year’s Summer Institute runs June 2 through 7 and will be held in Colorado Springs, CO.

You must be a current RMASFAA member to be considered for the scholarship.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the application process, please contact Beth Vollan at beth.vollan@sdstate.edu.

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March’s Training Tip


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As a financial aid administrator, one of the most rewarding aspect of our job is helping a student and their family determine that they can afford college. Alternately, delivering bad news to a student can be one of the hardest things we have to do. Whether it is informing a student that they are ineligible for a scholarship they were hoping for or delivering the news of a denial on a Parent PLUS loan, communicating bad news is a disheartening and difficult conversation to have. It is, however, still part of providing good customer service, and keeping a few steps in mind can make the job easier and can help maintain a good relationship with the student and their family.

#1. Always begin with empathy – As hard as it is to deliver bad news, it’s harder to be the receiver of bad news. Try putting yourself in the place of the student as you think of what to say. Students and parents will appreciate having their feelings recognized and acknowledged.

#2. Make yourself a part of the student’s team – Position yourself on the side of the student or student’s family. This is the difference between being the bearer of bad news and being the reason for the bad news. The student will receive your information in a much better frame of mind if they feel that you are on their side.

#3. Offer alternatives whenever possible – If you have positioned yourself as part of the student’s “team,” you will now have the ability to offer alternatives. Some students will be more open to this than others, but it’s important to convey the information. Often times, I’ve spoken with a student who is devastated by bad news and not ready to hear alternatives to the plan they’ve been counting on for months or even years. However, after only a day or two of reflection, they come back to discuss those alternatives. Even when the student is unreceptive to the alternatives you provide, take the time to do so whenever possible.

#4. Use simple, precise language to explain the policy or regulation – As we all know, Financial Aid is a language unto itself, and many of the policies or regulations we employ can be difficult for a student to understand. For example, having a conversation with a student who is no longer eligible for aid due to a SAP policy. Simply reciting your school’s SAP policy will likely leave the student confused and frustrated, and probably feeling upset with the financial aid office. Take the time to explain the policy in simple language so the student understands why their aid has been revoked and can leave your office having a plan in place to regain eligibility.

#5. Listen and clarify – Take the time to listen to the student’s concerns and situation. It’s always possible additional information may come to light that can provide new options for the student, such as a professional judgment. Then, if necessary, clarify the original message and be firm in your delivery. If the student feels they have space to bargain or negotiate, your conversation will only become more difficult.

#6. Follow-up or have a colleague follow-up – Providing a follow-up phone call or email to a student or their family can reinforce all of the previous steps. You can once again position yourself on the student’s “team” and have an opportunity to provide alternatives. You can also clarify your message and again listen to any questions or concerns the student or their parent’s might have. In certain situations, it may also be best to have a colleague follow-up, such as an admissions counselor, the student’s academic advisor, or another financial aid counselor who has worked with the student before.

Owl Post: Submit the Summer Institute Scholarship application now!


The RMASFAA Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DI) is sending this friendly reminder to submit the Summer Institute Scholarship application by April 1, 2019. The scholarship covers the Summer Institute registration fee and assists recipients with travel expenses.  The scholarship is intended for individuals who work to promote equity and inclusion on their campuses.  This year’s Summer Institute runs June 2 through 7 and will be held in Colorado Springs, CO.

You must be a current RMASFAA member to be considered for the scholarship.

If you have any questions or need assistance with the application process, please contact Beth Vollan at beth.vollan@sdstate.edu.

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Faces of Leadership Pipeline: Class of 2019


This month’s Leadership Pipeline post is written by Steve Enriquez from Wichita State University-Campus of Applied Science and Technology.

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1) Your current position and how long you’ve worked in FA? Currently I am the Associate Director, Financial Aid at Wichita State University-Campus of Applied Science and Technology. I have been in financial aid for 8 years. I have a variety of job duties. I started as a Student Financial Aid Technician at Hutchinson Community College to my current position of Associate Director.

2) Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline? I was at our KASFAA Conference and heard the President of RMASFAA talking about it. The information provided had peaked my interest. I thought it would be a good opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and to make other professional contacts.

3) What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far? There have been a wide range of topics covered and different viewpoints in our meetings as a group and with my mentor the one thing that sticks out is not to hesitate whether it’s asking questions to others in our field or participating in our state, regional or national level. Take advantage of the opportunity.

4) What is it that you are hoping to gain at the end of the program? I hope to be able to communicate more clearly, help any team I am on within my institution or outside work more efficiently. Also to be able to see what everyone is doing and not only focus on what I am doing. In case someone needs help.

5) Why would you recommend this program to others? Yes in a heartbeat. This has also allowed me to meet people that are either knowledgeable or gaining knowledge in our profession at a regional level. Also the time with James Broscheit (mentor) has been extremely valuable listening to his advice based on his experiences.

Leadership Pipeline: Where Are They Now?


Enjoy this follow up on Justin Chase BrownBrown_Justin

I understand you consider yourself a Leadership Pipeline “dropout!” Tell us a little bit more about this.

I was at the University of Kansas when I started in Leadership Pipeline and then halfway through the year I moved to Wisconsin for a new job. I stayed engaged with the program and with my mentor, but I was unable to make it to the graduation ceremony at the RMASFAA conference. It was hard having to miss that graduation ceremony!

What was it like moving to a different region?

Having moved from RMASFAA to a different region and then moving back was difficult. You build up a network, then you lose it for a while because you lose touch without seeing people every year. Then you come back and there are a lot of new faces and you have to try to pick up where you left off. There are a lot of people who still remember and know you, but there are also plenty of people who are new and have no idea who you are. It’s difficult jumping right back into things as you know there are people who have been working hard for the association who deserve a chance to shine!

Tell us a little about your career path before, during, and after Leadership Pipeline.

I took a lateral move during the time I was in LP. I was an Assistant Director at KU, then I moved to the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh to be their Assistant Director. Professionally, I felt limited at KU. I was in charge of SAP, which dominated most of my time. I had exposure to different areas of financial aid, but didn’t feel like I was getting enough experience in the other areas. I chose to leave so I could experience a smaller school and get more experience. I went from an office of about 25 people to an office of 10 people. This was a good career move for me looking back because I gained a lot of experience. Personally, my wife and I had our first child and the move allowed us the opportunity to have her work from home.

How was your experience while you were in Leadership Pipeline?

It was great! I remember it was the first time I ever had a one-on-one conversation with Justin Draeger. He came to the conference when we started the program. At the time, he was fairly new in his role as President and CEO of NASFAA. I was still new in the field and it was great to get that exposure for advice. Jim Swanson was my mentor for the LP, so that was also great! He is a legend in the financial aid world. Getting to work with him was a great experience.

What has your career path been since you have been out of LP?

I was really only at UW Oshkosh for 18 months before I was approached for the Associate Director position at University of Missouri. While I was at Mizzou, I had my eye on Nebraska. Then Nebraska’s previous Director retired earlier than I expected. When that happened, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. I didn’t think I would get the job, but I wanted to experience the interview process and put my name out there as someone who wanted to be a Director. It was an exciting time to be offered the position and then also very scary! There were several leadership changes before and after I arrived. Everyone up the chain of command was either an interim or was new to their role. Although, it was a great experience to have negotiated the terms of the job with who is now the Chancellor. It was great to have that connection to him right away.

Do you have any advice for people who are considering becoming a Director?

There are folks out there who wonder if it’s the right fit for them or if they are ready. I would say, if you are waiting for the right time or a time when you think you’ll be ready, you’ll never be there. You just have go for it. Put yourself out there. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by because you don’t want to regret not doing something. Personally, I’ve never applied for a job I thought I was ready for. I think you can grow into every job you take on. If you’re waiting for that right moment, it’ll never come to you! It’s like when folks try to plan a family and want to wait until you’re prepared to be a parent. It’s not something you can fully prepare for and appreciate until it happens!

What are your goals moving forward?

I wanted to come to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln for the job and for my family. I like Nebraska, and I wanted to get somewhere stable for my kids to go through school. I plan to be here as long as Nebraska will continue to have me. I’m also in my second year in a PhD program. I definitely wouldn’t consider looking elsewhere until I’m finished with the program. I’ve seen too many people struggle with finishing their doctorate after taking on a new job and I don’t want to have to go through that. Lately I’ve been drawn more to federal and state aid policy, so if I were to ever do anything differently, that might be the direction I would look toward.

Submitted by Sarah Standley Sarah Standley