Monday, December 1, 2014

MSFAA President-Elect's Michigan Update

(by Val Meyers, MSFAA President-Elect)

I am finding that the biggest challenge in preparing to become MSFAA president is the President’s Retreat.  It’s a full day to meet with the new board in preparation for our year of service to the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association, and it will be held in less than a month.  As the date looms, I am finding that the number of hours of comfortable sleep in my life declines.

MSFAA’s board year begins on the last day of the Winter Conference at the end of January, 2015, and ends at the end of the next Winter Conference in 2016.  Between those two mileposts, we’ll be hosting a Leadership initiative, a Support Staff Training, a new advisor Financial Aid 101 training series, a series of high school sessions from the Early Awareness/Multicultural Outreach Committee, and of course, a Summer Conference.  In support of that, we’ll need to have conference planning, training planning, outreach planning, budget planning – whew!

So my thoughts are rambling over the landscape of all of this, calculating what I would like to accomplish in one short year, and musing on what should be primary for us this year.  We do a lot of things, but is there one goal to accomplish in 2015?  That’s a question for MSFAA, for MASFAA, for the profession as a whole, so I know I am not alone in wondering.  But when I stand up in front of the executive board members for the first time, I think I should have some sense of an answer.

I want to be optimistic about what we can do to help students, but that’s hard when I see how the shape of student aid has changed in the nearly 30 years I have been in the profession.  There is a lot less gift aid from state and federal sources than I would like to see available for our students.  We don’t have the budgets for outreach and financial aid nights that we used to have – we don’t even have the same number of staff any longer.  So how do we frame what we can accomplish in a positive way, while being realistic about our limits as aid administrators?

The executive board consists of about 35 people.  I hope they are excited about the year ahead.  I will work with them to set achievable goals and figure out a way that we can reach those goals.  It will take some tact, some charm, some organization, and some imagination.

Since I am not even good at putting a dinner party together, this is going to be a real challenge.

Stay tuned….

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