Monday, November 24, 2014

MASFAA Well Represented at NASFAA Board Meeting

(by Aaron Steffens, MASFAA President)

Six MASFAA members attended a NASFAA Board Meeting in New Orleans on November 17-18.  These six members included Dan Mann (IL), NASFAA Chair-Elect; Lori Vedder (MI), Treasurer; Craig Slaughter (IN), Representative at Large; Paula Luff (IL), Representative at Large; Sara Beth Holman (WI), MASFAA Regional Representative and Aaron Steffens (IA), MASFAA Observer.  The board heard updates from National Chair Eileen O’Leary as well as NASFAA President Justin Draeger.  It was reported that the rollout of the Ethics and Code of Conduct information has been fairly well received at conferences.  A lively discussion took place as it related to moving board tenure from two to three years for the regional representatives.  While no decisions were made, many points of view were shared and it appears that conversation on this topic will be on-going.

A highlight of the board meeting included a conversation with Lynn Mahaffie, Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.  Items of interest that were discussed with Assistant Secretary Mahaffie included the future of the Perkins Loan program, Gainful Employment regulations, changes to credit standards in the PLUS program, PAYE regulations and the President’s College Ratings System.  The Department is well aware of the fact that schools need guidance on how to proceed with packaging Perkins Loans for 2015-16 in light of the fact that this program could end.  Look for more information on the formula for the College Ratings System to be released in a December Federal Register.

Attending this meeting did give us an opportunity to preview the location for the 2015 NASFAA Conference.  The Hyatt Regency in New Orleans is a beautiful facility that should be able to accommodate the conference nicely.  While the brisk thirty degree temperatures made a walk down to the French Quarter seem endless, the walk is only about ten blocks.  The 2015 NASFAA Conference promises to be special as it serves as the kick-off point to NASFAA’s 50th Anniversary year. 

As the holiday season begins with Thanksgiving this week, I would like to wish you and yours all the best in the upcoming weeks.

MASFAA Federal Issues Update

(by David Vikander, MASFAA Federal Issues Chair)

Federal Midterm Elections

NASFAA has provided a policy update at some of the recent state association conferences in the region. To summarize briefly, the federal midterm elections resulted in the GOP taking control of the Senate, which will result in a shift from the current state of Congress going into the 114th Congress, which will be in effect during the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency. The GOP also increased the majority in the House of Representatives, which is the largest since 1928. The change will result in structural leadership and committee membership changes in both chambers. Some of the high-profile members of Congress who will not be returning are Bishop-NY, Hagen-NC, Harken-IA, Miller-CA, and McKeon-CA.

State Elections Update

In the state by state elections, the GOP control both the House and the Senate in 24 states across the nation. The GOP control 66 of 99 state legislatures. It is possible that this change will result in further reductions in higher education spending at the state levels. Seven states are controlled by the Democrats, which is the fewest since the Civil War. New investments in higher education are unlikely and the GOP will likely stall the College Ranking System.

Click here for interactive map from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

GOP 5 Pillars

The GOP released its 5 "Pillars of a Renewed Majority," which can help determine what their highest priorities will be in the 114th Congress:
  1. Tax Code
  2. Spending Reduction
  3. Legal System
  4. Regulatory System
  5. Education
Reauthorization Update
To briefly summarize, there were several efforts at reauthorization by the 113th Congress this summer, which will need to be introduced to the new Congress, likely in piecemeal before coming together at some point. If you recall, there was a Harkin bill that was over 700 pages. Alexander and Bennet proposed a bi-partisan bill called the FAST Act that focused on FAFSA simplification, and then the House GOP proposed a bill. We could see little action during the lame duck session of Congress on reauthorization. Harkin may try to push his bill through*, but it is unlikely to move. We could see real movement on reauthorization in March or April 2015. Full reauthorization at that point is unlikely in 2015, but will be active discussion.

*Since this post was originally drafted, NASFAA policy and federal relations staff posted a policy update, titled "Senate HELP Committee Introduces Final Higher Education Affordability Act Reauthorization Bill."

Monday, November 17, 2014

2014 MASFAA Awards and Recognition

(by Christy Miller, MASFAA Awards Chair)

The 2014 MASFAA Conference in West Virginia was not only a wonderful time of learning and networking but we had the opportunity to honor many MASFAA colleagues for their service to our organization, the financial aid profession, and the students we serve. This year’s highest MASFAA award, the Allen W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award, was awarded to Keith Williams
(Michigan State University) for his outstanding achievements in the financial aid profession and to MASFAA’s goals. Keith shared, “I am so honored to even be nominated for such an award. I am sorry I was not able to attend the conference. I was certainly there in spirit with my MASFAA family.” 

Keith Williams with his Allen W. Purdy
Distinguished Service Award
Justin Chase Brown (University of Missouri), Melissa Haberman (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Jayme Jarrett (Ohio Northern University), walked away with the Meritorious Service Award for their work on #FAchat and the MASFAA Communications and Innovations Committee.
Justin Chase Brown receives Meritorious
Service Award from Christy Miller
MASFAA acknowledged, Gena Boling (Missouri University of Science & Technology) as the Outstanding New Professional within the MASFAA region.

Gena Boling receives Outstanding New
Professional Award from Christy Miller
MASFAA President, Sara Beth Holman, presented Aaron Steffens, President-Elect, with the 2013-14 President's Award based on his significant contributions to MASFAA over the past year.

Aaron Steffens accepts the
President's Award
Sara Beth also presented the Committee of the Year Award to the Long Range Strategic Planning Task Force (Rick Shipman, Dick Battig, Buddy Mayfield, Darla Palmer, and Lori Vedder) for their tireless work on the new five-year strategic plan that will take effect with the 2014-15 Executive Council.

For the first time in MASFAA history, current student Kendyl Ryan from Marshall University was honored for her commitment to promoting college access awareness among her peers and other first-generation college students with the ACCESS Award of the Year.

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis and her alma mater, West Virginia State University, were honored with the MASFAA Student Success Story Award.

Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis and
JoAnn Ross
We also heard wonderful stories about why the State Leadership Award recipients from each of the nine MASFAA states are so deserving of recognition: Amanda Fijal (IL), Sue Allmon (IN), Heather Gaumer (IA), Lori Vedder (MI), Susan Neppl (MN), Samantha Matchefts (MO), Angela Johnson (OH), Sandra Oerly-Bennett (WV), and Karla Weber (WI).

Heather Gaumer, Iowa State Leadership Award
Lori Vedder, Michigan State Leadership Award
Angela Johnson, Ohio State Leadership Award
Sandra Oerly-Bennett, West Virginia State Leadership Award

Karla Weber, Wisconsin State Leadership Award
Felicia Carrillo was awarded the Haywood Legacy Scholarship, named in honor of Zina Haywood, past MASFAA President.

Felicia Carrillo
At the conference, we also recognized our MASFAA members for their many years of service in the financial aid profession with the Years of Service Recognition. Herald Johnson and Herbert Saunders were recognized for 45 years of service. Beatriz Contreras, Rebecca Shinaberry, Herschel Wallace, Nadine Hamrick, and Gary Spoales were each recognized for 40 years of service to the financial aid profession. Julie Dunn, John Parker, and LuGail Hamel celebrated 35 years of service. For 30 years of service, we recognized Michelle Bowman, Robert Eagle, Jean Pohlman, Cheryl Willard, Joanna Dye, Mary Nucciarone, and Michiale Schneider. The following were recognized for 25 years of service to the profession: Gale Crandell, Jayne Dinse, Christine Ditter, Tracy Drechsler, Arlene Duerksen, Todd Everett, Beverly Hickman, Mildred Jackson, Kimberly Jeffers, Karen LeVeque, John McPherson, Vicki Miller, David Neitzke, Vicki Saunders, Mary Shaw, Nancy Siddens, Debra Turner, Jana Vanderah, and James Woods. We also recognized those who celebrated 20 years in the field: Kate Barton, John Brandt, Michelle Curtis, Kim Donat, Bonnie Estrada, Deborah Faust, Ellen Frost, Laura Frye, John Herrmann, Amy Kerwin, Douglas Levy, Brett Lindquist, Joan Meyer, Connie Negron, Jeffrey Olson, Christopher Rone, Kim Siwarski, Susan Teerink, Nicole Verrett, and Concepta Williamson.

We also thank and honor those who are retiring from the financial aid profession with the Recognition of Retirement. From Illinois, we recognize the retirement of Robert Andersen, Doris Butts, Jerry Donna, Suzzanne Heberer, Deanna Kelly, Becki Lindblade, Suzanne Mostafavifar, Holly Pickowitz, Ellen Rigsby, Deb Stiefel, Suzanne Swenson, and Pamela Wagener. From Indiana, we recognize Barb Cannaday, Sharon Colwell, Corene Foust, Joanne Haymaker, Richard Hill, Barb Jerzyk, JoAnn Laugel, Judy Parent , George Posey, and Phillis Wilson. From Michigan, we recognize Patricia Chaplin, Wanda Edwards, Ann Graves, Linda Perry, Ellis Salim, Mary Stark, and Cynthia VanPelt. From Minnesota, we recognize Marla Friederichs and Gene Slettedahl. From Missouri, we recognize Sandy Pritt. From Ohio, we recognize Mary Kay Freshour and Barb Thoma. And from Wisconsin, we recognize Mary Gorud, Janice Riutta, Lynn Stewart, Sue Ulrick, Paul Watson, and
Jeff Zahn.

If you have the opportunity to see or talk to these great MASFAA folks, be sure to congratulate them and thank them for all they do for the financial aid community.

*** *** *** ***

Monday, November 10, 2014

MASFAA 2014 Conference Program Recap: Charleston, West Virginia

(by Triena Bodart and Debbie Murphy,
MASFAA 2014 Conference Program co-chairs)

As we made our way to the airport to head home, we realized that this conference had significant differences for us.....we had just wrapped up our first MASFAA fall Conference as co-chairs.  

One year ago we drove to Indianapolis and met our conference program committee for the first time; a committee of Midwest colleagues who volunteered to work with us and helped create a great conference for MASFAA in 2014. As we prepared for our conference planning we asked ourselves, "Would we be successful? Would we have fun? Would we walk away with anything tangible?"

We walked away from the first meeting knowing our committee was as determined to "Climb to Great Heights" and plan a hearty conference program that would provide insight into the profession and help shed light on the upcoming challenges we might face in the year ahead.  As our planning continued throughout the year, we got to know people individually and it was apparent that the depth of talent, knowledge and energy of our committee members was rich and invigorating. Together we developed a conference program we were confident would engage, educate, enlighten, encourage, and entertain new and veteran MASFAA conference goers alike.  

For someone that doesn't like to fly, the actual flight into Charleston was an amazing adventure for Triena, as "landing on top of old Smokey" appeared several times on Triena's Facebook page.  As we stepped off the plane, we were greeted with the true charm and southern hospitality of West Virginia.  Keith, our hotel shuttle driver,  provided an informative mini tour of the Charleston downtown area as we headed to the Marriott Town Center as we were about to see all of the fruits of our labor spring into action over the next five days. 

Conference goers laughed with, cried with and learned from all of our fabulous keynote speakers and we were all engaged by the President's Panel discussion! We are sure some still carry their Q-tip with them. In addition to the wealth of information shared during the General Sessions, attendees were able to select from a variety of interest sessions throughout the conference.  The sessions ranged from advising, diversity and customer service to repayment, audits and leadership!  We even hosted a spontaneous presentation on “How to Say No!”

Ash Beckham, keynote speaker, presenting at the Diversity Pre-Conference Workshop

During the 'evening on your own' we hope you were able to break away from the conference hotel and enjoy a little bit of Charleston -- the downtown area provided multiple options to please our palates; from Pies and Pints, Burritos and Brews, Tidewater Grille to First Watch.   Hopefully you were able to take advantage of the river walk, maybe even visit the daily farmers market to take in some of the breath taking fall colors of Charleston. We certainly enjoyed our time in Charleston and look forward to returning to West Virginia for MASFAA 2023!

MASFAA truly does have talent!!

The conference would not have happened without the collaboration, cooperation and assistance of so many professionals and colleagues who volunteered their time and talents to bring MASFAA another great conference in 2014!  See you next year in Coralville, Iowa as we Grow Connections for Success!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Welcome to MASFAA Moments!

(by Aaron Steffens, MASFAA President)

On behalf of the entire Executive Council of the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA), I would like to welcome you to the official blog of our organization! 
A few of the 2014 Conference Scholarship recipients: Aaron Peterson,
Emily Haynam, Lindsey Roberts, and Kristen Gibbs
 This blog replaces our electronic newsletter and will serve as our primary means of communication with the membership. It is indeed an honor to author the first blog post for MASFAA Moments. As your recently inaugurated President, I would like to offer a short recap of our recent conference in Charleston, West Virginia. More than three hundred members gathered October 12-15 to learn about the latest changes in financial aid policy and discuss best practices with colleagues. Presenters highlighting the conference included Ash Beckham, LGBTQ activist and educator; Connie Kilmark, financial counselor better known as the “Dr. Ruth of Money”; Dr. Marco Clark, CEO/Founder of Broken Promise School; Justin Draeger, NASFAA President and CEO; Eileen O’Leary, NASFAA National Chair; and Byron Scott from the U.S. Department of Education. Those in attendance were able to attend seven general sessions and choose from almost sixty interest sessions to further their professional development. Members even had an opportunity to share their abilities during the “MASFAA’s Got Talent” contest held the last evening of the conference. That, alone, is worth an entire blog post that I’ll let someone else cover. At this time, I would like to extend a big thank you to the members of the West Virginia Association for being great hosts to the MASFAA membership!

Justin Chase Brown, Lori Vedder, and Craig Slaughter
In looking forward to next year, please mark your calendars for October 4-7, 2015. “Growing Connections For Success” is the theme for the 2015 MASFAA Conference that will be held in Coralville, Iowa. My colleagues in Iowa are looking forward to being your hosts.

As I close this first of many blog posts, I would like to thank the membership for giving me the awesome opportunity to lead MASFAA for the next twelve months. This Executive Council is full of energy and ready to begin implementation of our new strategic plan.

Best Wishes,
Aaron Steffens – MASFAA President