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Thursday, February 14, 2019

My MASFAA Board Meeting Experience

Submitted by Alex DeLonis, Director of Financial Aid Processing at Ivy Tech Community College and MASFAA Delegate-at-Large


One of my favorite parts of being involved in MASFAA and serving on the Executive Board is attending the board meetings with my colleagues throughout the year.  Here are some of the highlights of my experience at the meeting held last week:

How Did You Get There?
This Board Meeting experience got started with a road trip with two of my favs President Marvin Smith and Executive Vice President Heidi Carl.  The 3 hour journey from Indianapolis to Lombard, Illinois was a wonderful opportunity for us to catch up.  Our meeting took place at the Westin Lombard which is also the site for the MASFAA 2019 Champions for Tomorrow conference in October.

What Were the Hot Topics?
We had a long agenda but our President Marvin Smith kept the meeting moving.  The agenda items that stood out to me were the strategic plan task force update, conference planning, financial updates, diversity and inclusion, summer institute, professional development, and hearing what issues our State Presidents were dealing with.  In my role as Delegate-at-Large I have the opportunity to work with the Conference Program, Local Arrangements, and Advocacy and Legislative Issues Committees, so it was a great opportunity to connect with them to hear about the great work they are doing.

What Did You Eat?
You can’t go to the Chicagoland area without eating deep dish pizza, right? And Reese’s Cups…Lot’s of Reese’s Cups. 

What Was the Area Like?
This is going to be an amazing place to have our conference!  The venue itself is spacious and easy to get to.  The location is a short drive from both O’Hare and Midway airports.  There is plenty to do in the area including great shopping and endless restaurant options!

How Did Nick Injure His Thumb?
After a long day’s work we had the opportunity to kick back with our colleagues and relax.  The competitive MASFAA members engaged in a few round of the card game Spot It.  For those who have not played it’s a game that requires being the quickest to find the matching symbol between two cards.  This is how our Past President Nick Prewett nearly lost his thumb.   In the end, I think the table won the game after Nick was forced to retire from Spot It to ice his injury.
  


When is the Next Meeting?
The next Board Meeting will take place in early June at Western Michigan University and will overlap with the Summer Institute and Leadership Symposium.  Heal up, Nick!  I’ll be sure to bring Spot It again!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Importance of Advocacy

Submitted by Val Meyers, Michigan State University, and Michelle Curtis, University of Minnesota

The role of the MASFAA Advocacy and Legislative Issues Committee (ALIC) is to assemble talking points that our members can use to influencing legislative or regulatory efforts.  We do this to educate legislators and their staff about the needs of students and families, the work that we do as aid administrators, and how a change in law or regulation can help us with our common mission – to promote access for students into an institution of higher education.

Recent events have proven that advocacy can also be vital during a sudden change in conditions, such as a government shutdown.  In this case, the closing of the Internal Revenue Service left families unable to obtain documents vital to receiving financial aid.  As schools began trying to work through the start of the new term in January, with bills due and parents unable to pay, we had to develop scenarios that both adhered to regulations and helped our families.  In the background, we knew that Federal Student Aid (FSA) was working to publish new guidance on alternative tax documents.  NASFAA and all of our legislative affairs staff in DC were sharing impact statements as more schools began reporting the frustration of unverified applicants who had no financial aid to pay their bills.

Before the Dear Colleague Letter was released on January 9th to allow alternative documents for verification, schools were doing what they could (extending the due dates of registration bills, cancelling late fees and interest, or even advancing institutional aid to cover the minimum payments).

But it’s important to note that this change didn’t start with the shutdown – the shutdown just made a crisis out of an existing annoyance.  We all knew, for example, that the requirement for the Verification of Non-Filer documents put a burden on our neediest students and families.   The same could be said of those tax filers who, without a credit history, couldn’t use the online tool to get a copy of the tax transcripts and were thus limited to the request by mail option, which cost them more in time and effort.

FSA was already on the way to revising the requirements, as they announced at their annual training at the end of November.  This is likely to have been in response to advocacy from financial aid administrators, both individually and through their associations at the state, regional, and national levels.

With this is mind, we welcome thoughts on items should we advocate for in the future.  What are your major pain points?  What one law or regulation would you change if you could?  And how can MASFAA ALIC help you in that effort?  We welcome your feedback.

Monday, January 14, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR MASFAA!

Submitted by Emily Haynam, Assistant Director of Compliance, The Ohio State University, co-chair of the MASFAA Communications and Electronic Initiatives Committee, and MASFAA Delegate-at-Large

Hello MASFAA! I hope your 2019 year has started out well and everyone is enjoying the recent announcement of changes to the verification requirements… can we just say, wooohooo!!!!  

I’m today excited to announce the first live MASFAA webinar will be held on Monday, January 28 from 3:00pm-4:00pm ET (2pm-3pm CT). The first webinar topic “This Is MASFAA” will be presented by MASFAA President Marvin Smith (from IUPUI) and MASFAA Membership Chair Matthew Kearney (from Southeast Missouri State). Marvin and Matthew will be talking about the value of MASFAA membership and opportunities for involvement.

Speaking of opportunities for MASFAA involvement, we need the membership to “step up” and submit conference ideas by the end of January. Conference program co-chairs Betsy Johnson (from Bowling Green) and Susan Teerink (from Marquette) are planning for the MASFAA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL from October 6-9, 2019.

The theme for our 2019 Conference is Champions of Tomorrow and we’re looking forward to being in a great city while helping develop champions of tomorrow in all of you and also learning about ways to make our students champions as they strive to reach their goals.  However, to ensure we bring you a fantastic lineup of sessions and keynote speakers, we need your help!

The Conference Program Committee is seeking session proposals NOW, so please take a moment and think of ways in which you can contribute to our conference.  We invite you to submit interest session proposals now through January 31, 2019 for consideration.

Please visit https://goo.gl/forms/71ff3xQ2HZbhhpxJ3 to complete your session proposal. One thing to note - please do not use this form to submit your Business Solutions sessions. We'll be collecting those separately in conjunction with Chad Olson, Chair of the Donor Development Committee.