President’s Update

Oh sweet mother of sunshine, it’s June.  When did that happen?!  (And if anybody emails me and says something cute like “midnight May 31st” I swear I’ll…”)

But alas, here we all are, getting ready to close out another academic year and start a new one.  It’s not like closing out a calendar year, is it.  In December we celebrate the end of a year with Christmas and sugar plums and champagne toasts.  When we close out an academic year we celebrate by answering a bunch of crazy audit inquiries and closing out our work study accounts and trying to figure out why the physical plant shut off the air conditioning in our building when it’s 95 degrees outside.  But such is the life we financial aid folk have chosen for ourselves, and the reality is we wouldn’t change a thing.  And working with a fresh group of new freshmen?  Awesome.  If only they’d leave their parents at home…  Plus, there is no law that says we can’t have champagne toasts in June!!

So what’s been happening here in this magnificent world we call the Rocky Mountain Region?  Well here are some highlights since my last update in March…

  • State Conferences:  Truly the highlight of my Presidency has been my travels to the state conferences.  I had so much fun at every single one of them that I’m going to talk President-Elect Ken Kocer into letting me tag along next year.  (Except the treasurer might have something to say about that…)  I made it to seven of our eight states and drove to every single conference except Montana.  Not only did I enjoy the company and expertise of the conference attendees and contributors, but took in some great scenery as well.  Thank you to Past-President Joe Donlay for making it to the Utah conference on my behalf which fell during the same week as the Kansas conference.  I am forever impressed by the amazing work our state associations do to keep their members tuned in and educated.  Thanks so much to each and every state for making me feel so welcome!!
  • Training Committee:  This amazing committee could have sat on their laurels after providing seven NASFAA U Credentialing Webinars, which were incredibly well attended and appreciated.  But no, like the energizer bunny, they just keep going!  Now they have scheduled five summer and fall webcasts on topics including SAP, Verification, Consumer Information, Enrollment, and R2T4.  Check out the RMASFAA Blog for full information on these webcasts, and hats off to Janet Dodson and her team for all of their hard work!
  • Elections:  Kudos to Ken Kocer for putting together a fantastic slate of candidates for the coming year!!  If you have not voted already, get that vote in now!!  We are all waiting with baited breath for the results.  Thank you so much to those of you who threw your name into the hat.  Good luck to all!
  • Summer Institute:  It’s almost here!  Looking forward to seeing all of you signed up to attend, and working with all of you on the committee.  Jenny Leigh Adler, SI Chair, and Susan Stephenson, Faculty Dean, along with their amazing crew, have put together what will be an amazing experience for all of us.  I’m ready to hit the road!
  • NASFAA Conference:  Hope to see some of you in San Diego June 25-29!  I am planning a RMASFAA get together on Monday evening, so if you are interested in coming with, pop me an email at  Would love to have you with us.
  • RMASFAA Conference Wichita:  Mark your calendars for October 15-18 in Wichita, Kansas!  Myra Pfannenstiel and Tony Lubbers are putting together a great program and I for one can’t wait to head south.  Don’t miss this opportunity.  Seriously.

So I’m sitting here on this sunny June Wednesday morning, indulging in a Barista’s Skinny Spiced Chai Dirty (with a shot of caramel) thinking about how fast this year has gone as President.  In just a few short months it will be almost over, and I suppose that should sound good to me, but I’m already feeling a sense of loss.  Working with this Board and with all of you is the icing on the cake for a financial aid lifer.  Those of you fortunate enough to win this election are in for a treat (especially getting to work under the likes of Ken Kocer our President-Elect).  What an amazing association we are!

So enjoy your summer, enjoy each other, and always know that if you have any questions or concerns, I’m just a phone call or email away (402-461-2414 or

Vicki Kucera
RMASFAA President


NASFAA Board Update


As your current regional voting representative on the NASFAA Board of Directors, I wanted to take a moment to update you on current events and happenings within our terrific national association. The NASFAA Board of Directors met March 1-2, 2017 in Washington D.C. As is typical of NASFAA Board agendas, our two-day meeting was informative, intense, and exceedingly productive. Key discussion items included:

  • Updates and continued discussion on regional/national alignment efforts, and the work of the current “thought force” charged with examining our organizational structures, operational activities, and programming.
  • Final overview of architectural renderings of the new NASFAA Office, to be located at 1801 Pennsylvania Avenue, along with transition plans for NASFAA staff and services.
  • Updates on Financial Affairs and related strategic initiatives, including how NASFAA might cultivate additional revenue opportunities for the association while also providing a greater number of benefits to our membership.
  • Updates from NASFAA’s Ethics Commission and the recent work of that group (led by RMASFAA’s own Mary Sommers) related to recent inquiries that necessitated commission review.
  • A “DC Update” from Justin Draeger, which outlined three flash points for expected policy discussions:
    • One Grant/One Loan and Campus-Based Aid
    • Graduate and Parent Borrowing
    • Title IV Funding (in general)
  • Board approval of a NASFAA report to FSA detailing concerns related to GE reporting, FSA’s status as a performance-based organization, responsiveness to constituents, and overreach in policymaking.
  • A US Department of Education update from Jeff Baker, Craig Munier, Carney McCullough, and Nathan Arnold.
  • Updates from the National College Access Network (NCAN).

Complete minutes from the Board of Directors meeting are accessible to members on the NASFAA website.

As part of my NASFAA responsibilities, I have been recently tasked with chairing a national advocacy network charged with 1.) Engaging members of congress to advocate for student aid policy and issues facing our profession, 2.) Assisting NASFAA staff in developing materials and communicating the value of federal financial aid programs to policymakers, and 3.) Working with advocacy network members to engage with fellow aid administrators to amplify our efforts where possible. I am thrilled with the group of connected and influential financial aid colleagues who we’ve assembled for this network and look forward to the work ahead of us during this challenging time.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve both our Rocky Mountain region and NASFAA.  I have been beyond honored for this experience!

-Joe Donlay, 2016-17 RMASFAA Past-President

Joe Biz Pic 2

Join Leadership Pipeline!

Have you ever thought about…

  • Presenting at your State, Regional or National Conference?
  • Becoming a Board or Committee member on your Financial Aid Association Boards?
  • Approaching your Vice President with an idea to increase productivity?
  • Applying for the supervisor position in your department?
  • How your mood sets the tone for the day?
  • Achieving your goals one step at a time?
  • Making a commitment to be a part of a team?
  • How great it would be to have a professional mentor one phone call away when you need them?


If you have pondered these thoughts, check out what RMASFAA’s Leadership Pipeline can help you achieve.  Leadership training and mentoring is available for RMASFAA members.

Applications are available NOW for October of 2017:  .

Apply TODAY and meet a new mentor!

If you have questions, please contact Janet Riis ( or 406-447-5423).



Don’t Forget to Vote!


The 2017-18 RMASFAA ballot is open for voting privileges until June 12! If you are the voting member at your institution, please follow the instructions below to vote right away! If you are NOT a voting member, please take a minute to provide input to your representative if he or she has not yet voted.

To vote go to:

Read the instructions carefully. You may only vote once and all votes are final.

To view a candidate’s general information, click on their name.  A new window will open.

If you experience any technical problems during this process, please contact

Wyoming: State Update

feelin the love

Wyoming financial aid administrators were Feelin’ the Love at the WyASFAA annual conference April 27-28, 2017 in Cheyenne. Despite Wyoming’s usual late spring snow that delayed some arrivals and a falling rock event (no, really!), we had 34 attendees and enjoyed a day and a half of great sessions by WyASFAA members and guest presenters.

A house-sized boulder fell near the edge of U.S. Highway 20/Wyoming 789 causing Northwest College conference attendees to have a two-hour detour home.  Photo courtesy of WYDOT.

The annual Hathaway Scholarship Meeting on April 26 served as our pre-conference event. Institutional Hathaway Coordinators, financial aid directors and other staff met with Education Consultants from the Wyoming Department of Education’s Hathaway Scholarship Program to discuss best practices and learn about new legislation impacting the program. Staff from Wyoming’s Community College Commission also participated in the event.

Nicole Castillon discusses 399 codes.

The main conference started with a discussion about dealing with conflicting info; Nicole Castillon from Western Wyoming College moderated the Crazy About That 399 Code session, but put her audience at ease by providing bubbles. Just like a bubble is temporary—it pops and is gone—the 399 Code is only around for one year.

Next, Kelcie Hamilton and Susan Stephenson, both from Eastern Wyoming College, presented general info, best practices and specific school examples during Infatuated with Consumer Info. They tried to lighten the mood of such a heavy topic with funny videos and memes. Both presenters have NASFAA U credentials in Consumer Info.

j donlay
Joe Donlay clears up confusion about calculating subsidized loan limits.

We were delighted to welcome guest presenter Joe Donlay, Past-President of RMASFAA, again this year. Joe used his stellar presentation skills and calming tone to make us all Starry-Eyed over SULA.

Following lunch, guest presenter Tammy Shroeder shared her passion for high quality education by giving an upbeat interpretation of Gazing Ahead at the Future of Education in Wyoming. Tammy provided a broad perspective on the state’s education — she’s been a classroom teacher, previously worked for the state Department of Education, was recently elected to the Albany County School Board, has a daughter participating in the Fulbright exchange program and just completed law school herself.

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Joe Massman engages the audience during the federal update.

After a morning of heavy topics, Julie Wilson from Laramie County Community College lightened the mood in the afternoon with her Five Love Languages of the Workplace. Her colleague and GEAR UP Program Manager at LCCC joined us the following morning for FA Loves GU, a session on how the GEAR UP program helps their students and financial aid administrators .

Joe Massman, Training Officer for the U.S. Department of Education, gave attendees the gift of a Heart-Shaped Box of Assorted Title IV Topics. We were delighted to have Joe participate for the whole conference, contributing insight and answering questions during other sessions, partaking in our evening award banquet and providing a second session, Feeling a Fondness for a Federal Update, during the last day of the conference.

vicki wyasfaa
Vicki Kucera gives a RMASFAA update.

RMASFAA President Vicki Kucera shared her passion for RMASFAA, encouraging members to become active in volunteering and participating in all of the great things RMASFAA has to offer such as Summer Institute, annual conference, and Leadership Pipeline. She gave updates on what she and her Board have been working on so far this year. We were pleased Vicki came for the whole conference to contribute her ideas and to share her experience with us.

The first day ended with the awards banquet and the traditional “passing of the tomahawk” (we apparently don’t use gavels in Wyoming…) to the new officers. Susan Stephenson from EWC took over as president from Julie Wilson; Brenda Haseman from the Northern Wyoming Community College District is giving DeeAnna Archuleta from Western Wyoming College a break from Treasurer Duties, and Tasha Plumb from Central Wyoming College is continuing for another year as Secretary.

julie wy
Julie Wilson thanks Kathryn DeWitt for her work on WyASFAA’s website this past year.

The day-and-a-half conference ended with the annual Business Meeting. Members agreed that they have a lot of work to do this year to get back on track after a difficult year with budget cuts, staff and association member turnover, and a general loss of focus. Some of our goals for the year are to look at our mission to see if it is still appropriate to our organization, then creating a Strategic Long-Range Plan. We also need to revise our Bylaws, a task that has been on the “to-do list” for several years, and align WyASFAA’s P&P with the revised bylaws. We plan to continue with and enhance our Wyoming High School Counselors Workshop, revise our website, look for ways to encourage and retain associate members, and remain a strong, viable state association.

Attendees listen attentively to a session.


Susan Stephenson, WyASFAA President
Kelcie Hamilton, Association News

Kelcie Hamilton

Distinguished Service Award-David Martin

Continuing with our RMASFAA Distinguished Service Award series. Throughout the series we will be asking past recipients of this award to share their stories and experiences with RMASFAA. The second post in this series features David Martin, Director of Financial Aid at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, SD. 

David Martin

When I think back to when I received the Distinguished Service Award, my first thought was how special it was that my wife Laura was able to be at the Utah conference at Snowbird with me. I asked Laura the other night if Jeff had called her and encouraged her to attend the conference and she said no. Well, maybe not, but Jeff has been a very good friend for a lot of years and it was something I could see him doing knowing how special that would be.

My first experience with RMASFAA was in 1986 when I attended my first Summer Institute less than two weeks after taking on the role of Financial Aid Director at Trinity Bible College. Some may find this hard to believe, but I’m an introvert at heart and finding myself in a large gathering of people that I did not know was rather frightening to me. I’m sure when I walked into the University of Colorado’s Darley Commons and approached the registration table, I looked pretty lost and overwhelmed. But I heard a voice of calm and assurance that offered assistance and set me up for a good experience.  The voice I heard was that of Rita Bayless, who at the time was at St. Mary’s College of the Plains in Kansas. Like so many other people I have known over the years in RMASFAA, Rita didn’t stop checking on me from time to time over the years to see how I was doing.  She even trusted me to work for her for 9 days when she was doing consulting.

I have attended two Summer Institutes over the years. It was either at my first one or maybe the second that Michael Johnson (Utah) said something in a session he was leading that has stuck with me ever since. He shared that regardless of how good of a relationship you have with your Vice-President, you should build a good relationship with at least one other VP on your campus. You never know when you might need another voice on the administrative level going to bat for you. This could be especially advantageous if your VP happens to be a PVS. (I won’t divulge what that stands for here; contact Michael Johnson or see me at the RMASFAA conference in Kansas this October!)

In September of 1990, I began working as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Black Hills State University, where for the next 6 years and about 3-½ months, I got to work with John Gritts (now at the U.S. Department of Education Denver Regional Office).  One of the things I learned from John is, there are times when you are working on a difficult project or maybe dealing with a difficult situation, and you just need to step out of the office and get away for a few minutes. It’s not to just get out of the office for the sake of getting out of the office; John left to get recharged! There were people on campus that he would go see and, when he came back, he was ready to tackle whatever the challenge was that faced him. He didn’t go see the negative people we all have on our campuses; no, he went to those who would encourage him and speak life into him.  To paraphrase something I wrote inside the front of my Bible that a former pastor of mine said many years ago in reference to raising our children – “Am I the wings upon which the dreams and aspirations of others soar or am I the shovel that buries those dreams and aspirations forever?”  May we all do our best to be the former!

I was out of the Financial Aid profession for about 1-½ years. Right after New Year’s Day 2000, I was contacted by William “Bill” Jones, Director of Academic & Enrollment Services at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and asked if I would consider coming on board as the Acting Financial Aid Director. The then current Director, Sharon Colombe, was pursuing a disability retirement due to complications from MS.  It would be a three month at a time gig depending on the evaluation of Sharon’s condition at the end of three months. I started January 10th and, well, three months became another three months and then another and finally Sharon was approved. In November of 2000 I was appointed the Director.  Now if you look in the RMASFAA HONOR ROLL of RMASFAA Presidents, you will notice the name of William Jones, President of RMASFAA for 1978-79 (the Michael Johnson I mentioned earlier served from 79-80 and John Gritts from 91-92).  I had the privilege to work for someone who had been on the ground floor of the start of SDASFAA and RMASFAA!  In the early years, Bill was a financial aid trainer, and although I don’t think there is anyone still in the profession that would have known Bill back then, his influence was all about the early development of Financial Aid professionals in our region.  And even though by the time I got to work with him he was well over a decade removed from the daily involvement with Financial Aid, it amazed me that he could still talk about the weightier issues of the Financial Aid profession.  What a privilege it was to work for him!

I have always enjoyed attending RMASFAA conferences, but it wasn’t until I became President of SDASFAA in 2006 that I experienced life on the RMASFAA Board!  How in the world could such a fun and sometimes nutty bunch of people get so much work done!  Sally Schuman did her best to groom me for a higher office, but once my year as SDASFAA President was over, I said farewell to service to RMASFAA, at least for a few years.

One day in early 2011, RMASFAA President-Elect Brenda Hicks called and asked if I would agree to have my name on the ballot for RMASFAA Treasurer. Hum, now that sounded interesting.  I said yes and was elected and had a crash course in the duties of the Treasurer with John Curl, who was on his second go-round as Treasurer after the untimely death of Randy Thompson. It was great working with Jeff Jacobs and Brenda during their terms as President. (Yes Brenda, even when hounding you to death over credit card receipts you didn’t know if they were at home, your office or in the truck!) When President-Elect Deb Byers called and said she wasn’t able to find enough people to run for Treasurer, she asked if I would run again.  I said yes (I was afraid to tell my staff) and was elected (my staff found out the same time everyone else in RMASFAA did!).  Deb’s year as President started off like normal, but then tragedy struck and Deb was gone!  When Past-Presidents Brenda Hicks and Jeff Jacobs and President-Elect Art Young stepped up to ensure the business of the association would go on (after a little hiccup to get the right names back on association bank accounts), the Treasurer functions went on as usual.  I can honestly say I enjoyed my two terms as Treasurer, but especially the people in our association that I got to work with over the course of those four years.

Thank you RMASFAA for the opportunity to serve, the honor I was given for the 2014 Distinguished Service Award (I was only doing what I was asked to do) and the many friends I have made along the way!


I have known David for many years through SDASFAA, yet I learned so much about David when he submitted the information for the Spotlight article!

Marlene Seeklander
Lake Area Technical Institute
RMASFAA Association News Committee