Monday, June 12, 2017

Highlights from the 2017 MASFAA Summer Institute

Celebrate Your Peers - Nominate Them For an AWARD Today!

Move over, Oscar!  Take a seat, Grammy.  Emmy, you’ve got nothing on Allan W. Purdy!!  The MASFAA Awards celebration is on the horizon.  This is MASFAA’s annual opportunity to celebrate our colleagues for their hard work and dedication to financial aid.  The awards given out include: Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award, Meritorious Service Award, Outstanding New Professional Award, State Leadership Award, and Award of Appreciation.  For further descriptions of each award and to find a list of past winners, please visit:

                Awards will be given out at the 2017 MASFAA Conference in Dayton Ohio, October 8-11; however, the nomination form is available now!!  Please take the opportunity today to help us recognize one of your peers and their special contributions.  2017 MASFAA Online Nomination Form

Monday, June 5, 2017

No Sleep ‘Till (DUM DUM DUM DUMMMMM) IRS Data Retrieval!*

*Read to the tune of the Beastie Boys “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

          The field of financial aid is filled with selfless people. We work hard to provide access and affordability in higher education, and while we all know what we signed up for (or maybe you didn’t, but you sure know now!), we forget that sometimes students can be grumpy, stressed, or just plain mean. Thank yous are rare from students, but we love what we do, and have a passion to make the financial aid process better (even if we complain endlessly to our significant others and/or mom). This has never been as prevalent as the last six or so months when this crazy, amazing financial aid horde banded together in the name of advocacy. The advocacy efforts made by financial aid administrators have been amazing to behold. Until this advocacy mob swept across the nation, I thought financial aid was static. Changes were made at the federal level, and then immediately embraced by our field without any fight. And then, there was a change. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool went down with no warning or information, but verification requirements stayed the same. We struggled to help students complete verification, and sent so many 4506-Ts that we could fill the form out in our sleep (get that line 5 filled in, baby!). I had phone calls with parents sobbing because they just didn’t know how they would be able to get us their tax return transcript, but their student had a 399 code with a deadline before aid would be cancelled. As these stories came up across the country, it was like a jet engine revving up. Calls to action were sent out across the country. #IRSDRT was tweeted out. I had students writing letters to their congressmen and women. I was writing letters, everybody was writing letters! Calls were made and we stood up as a profession and refused to let these burdens weigh on our students. 
            And let me tell you, before I realized that I could participate in this advocacy mob, I had NO interest in politics, and honestly, I was a little sketchy on how the government worked… Fifth grade was so long ago! But I jumped in, got the basics from listening to other people talk, said a few stupid things in big groups (once I asked how many Senators there are…SO embarrassing), but I have learned a ton in just the last few months about how not only legislation is proposed and passed, but also the best ways to advocate for my students. It starts with those stories! All of those people we have met, all of those students and families we have helped, and all of those ridiculous issues we have encountered really open legislators eyes to what we deal with on a daily basis. It also gives our positions and ideas clout: this needs to be changed because it is negatively impacting my students in this way, etc. And look what we accomplished! Getting to the bottom of the IRS DRT shutdown. Verification relief. Year-round Pell. I give credit to my mob friends with a shout out to our NASFAA godfather! Advocacy on the behalf of our students and their families has made a huge difference, and I am excited to see this horde of financial aid administrators continue to improve the federal aid process.

            Come join the advocacy mob! Reach out to your Legislative Committee. Google “how the government works” (or at least watch this quick video even if it’s a little outdated:).
 Read NASFAA’s daily newsletter. Ask questions. Write letters. Make calls. And definitely don’t sleep until the DRT is back online.

Post written by Keri Gilbert, Financial Aid Advisor at University of Missouri-Columbia
Keri was the recipient of the NASFAA regional scholarship - and as you can see, she's still "Weirdly Passionate." -jj

Monday, May 22, 2017

My experience as a MASFAA Exchange Participant by Gisella Baker

I had the privilege of attending the Minnesota State Conference at the Madden’s On Gull Lake in Brainerd, MN recently and I can only say “Wow!” to that experience.  Even before getting to the conference, Meredith Hauer and Dick Battig made sure I was ready to go and experience their awesome northern hospitalityJ  Then Gayle Yamry, as MAFAA President, and her association members made me feel very welcomed and not as an ‘outsider’ during my entire visit.  Thus to all of you, Thank you so much!

The MASFAA Exchange Program allows State Presidents (or state representatives) to experience how another MASFAA state conducts its conferences.  This is not just as a way to “spy” and “borrow” ideas on how to enhance our own state association conference programs, but also as a way to network with other fellow colleagues, absorb more financial aid knowledge, expand leadership relationships and have fun while at it!

I have to congratulate the MAFAA Program and Site committees for putting together a great conference!  The location was so beautiful, relaxed and made the conference flow so well.  The presenters did a great job, including those that did their first NASFAA Credential Course as the pre-conference agenda.  David Bartnicki, the federal trainer, made his presentations very unique and loved how personable, knowledgeable and funny he was.  He even sang and performed for us twice at the end of his general sessions (not to also mention he incorporated financial aid related jokes into his presentations).  A true southern personality!

This visit is another perk that I got to enjoy because once upon a time I had the courage to say “Yes!” to volunteering for my state association and then for MASFAA.  I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering first at whatever you feel comfortable with, and then taking a leap of faith and say “Yes!” when being asked to be put on an elected ballot.  What you receive in return far outweighs the additional time you spend fulfilling volunteering duties, especially the long lasting relationships and friendships near and far.

Thank you IASFAA for electing me as your 2017-18 president!  Thank you MASFAA for sponsoring me to participate in this Exchange Program!  It was a very memorable experience <3

Gisella Baker 
Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, Iowa
2017-18 IASFAA President
2016-17 MASFAA Awards Chair