Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Conference Site: Coralville, Iowa

(by Jayne Dinse & Dick Battig, Conference Site Selection Co-Chairs)

The MASFAA Executive Council met this past week at the site of the 2015 MASFAA Annual Conference at the Marriott in Coralville, Iowa. The Conference Program and Local Arrangements committees also met to check out the facilities and the local area (and you’ll be hearing from them over the next several months).  Frankly, after a couple days in Coralville, folks were pleasantly surprised at what the location has to offer! Participants were impressed and look forward to returning in October 2015 for our annual conference.   I would suggest that you, too, begin the planning process by assuring you have the budget for you and a few of your staff to attend. Check out the site below!

For those of you viewing this post in email, click here to view the full post, which includes a video!

Here are some still images of the conference site location:

We can't wait to see you in Iowa where we'll be "Growing Connections for Success!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MASFAA Nominations & Elections

(by Sara Beth Holman, Nominations and Elections Committee Chair and Past-President)

Hello MASFAA Colleagues,

The 2014-2015 MASFAA Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC) would like to officially announce the opening of the 2015-2016 MASFAA Board nominations. MASFAA is seeking nominations for the following MASFAA Board positions:

  • President-Elect (3 year commitment)
  • Vice President (2 year commitment)
  • Treasurer-Elect (2 year commitment)
  • Delegate-at-Large, 2 positions (2 year commitment) 

Please consider nominating an eligible and experienced colleague or NOMINATE YOURSELF!

Serving MASFAA is a rewarding experience that provides you with opportunities for professional growth and personal development while also providing great exposure for your institution.

The nomination form, along with position descriptions and nomination instructions, can be found on the MASFAA website under the “What’s New” tab or by following the link below:

Nominations must be submitted by 5 pm Friday, February 6, 2015.
The nomination period has been extended to February 13th

Thank you,

The 2014-15 MASFAA Nominations and Elections Committee

Sara Beth Holman (chair), Sue Swisher (IL), Debbie Schumm (IN), Gisella Baker (IA), Lori Vedder (MI), Jayne Dinse (MN), Gena Boling (MO), Randy Ulses (OH), Melissa Haberman (WI), Kathy Bialk (WV), and Aaron Steffens (ex-officio)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Executive Council Meets In Coralville

(by Aaron Steffens, MASFAA President)

Happy 2015 everyone!  Members of the MASFAA Executive Council received a preview of this fall’s conference venue when they met at the Coralville Marriott for their January meeting this past week.  Your council members worked hard during this meeting with our deliberations lasting until after 6 pm on Thursday evening and about fifteen minutes past our ending time Friday afternoon.  While officers each shared their reports, we spent the majority of our time discussing topics including the MASFAA Moments blog, membership recruitment strategy, the offering of quarterly webinars, reworking of Donor Development forms on the website and proposing changes to when we publish yearly offerings to our donors.  The board also made several decisions related to the upcoming conference including the approval of a $365 registration fee, the likely offering of a pre-conference workshop and the development of a best practices document for conference presenters.  Board members were also reminded that they need to submit certain items to the MASFAA Archivist as outlined in our procedures.

With MASFAA elections just around the corner, board members were encouraged to submit nominations.  The board also moved to reduce the number of days that the actual election is open from 30 days down to 14.  A thirty-day election period was created at the time when voting was done via mailed paper ballot.  The board felt that 14 days was ample time to vote electronically and were inclined to believe that most will vote in the first couple of days.  The President-Elect is currently updating the Policy and Procedure manual to reflect this change as well as our change to electronic voting.   I encourage all of our members to nominate a colleague for a MASFAA office or to self-nominate.  The nomination form should be online in the next couple of weeks.

The MASFAA Executive Council was not the only MASFAA group in Coralville this past week.  The Conference Program and Local Arrangements Committees were also onsite to start building connections for a successful fall conference.  Each of MASFAA’s groups received a hotel tour and a preview of some of the surrounding attractions.  Conference attendees will be able to enjoy beautiful conference and hotel facilities as well as many offerings that are just steps away from the conference.  Mark your calendars now to join us October 4-7 in Coralville, Iowa! In a couple of days, you'll be given a virtual tour of the conference site on this blog, written by our site chairs, Jayne Dinse and Dick Battig! You won't want to miss it.

Our fall conference hotel: the Marriott in Coralville, Iowa
The next meeting of the MASFAA Executive Council will be held in conjunction with our annual Summer Institute and Leadership Symposium this June.  Officer and committee reports for January have been posted to the MASFAA website if you want to learn more about our activities.  Best wishes to each of you as a new financial aid season begins!

Retiree Spotlight: Diane Lambart Fleming

(by Diane Lambart Fleming, MASFAA Retiree Involvement Committee Chair)

Welcome to our first in a series of MASFAA Retirement Spotlight posts. Throughout the year, we'll try to catch up with some of our MASFAA retired colleagues and see how they're doing! First up is our own MASFAA Retiree Involvement Committee Chair, Diane Fleming.

I am a native Michigander who grew up in a downriver suburb of Detroit, called River Rouge.  My father immigrated to America as a child, and so that makes me a first-generation American!   My parents valued education very much and expected all of their children to attend college.  Regrettably, my high school counselor advised me not to go to college as he didn't think I was “college material.”

Consequently, I attended Detroit Business Institute for a year to acquire shorthand skills that were necessary to get a secretarial job with one of the Big Three auto companies.  I worked for Ford Motor Company for six years, during which time I never once used those shorthand skills!!

In 1977 I started working as an Office Manager at Memphis State University (now University of Memphis).  This was my first job in an academic environment, and after observing the students at MSU, I eventually became convinced that I could handle the academics of college life.

Could you briefly describe your career in financial aid? 

When my husband accepted the position of Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Central Michigan University, I was fortunate enough to get a job, also at CMU, in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.  I began my financial aid career as a receptionist, which was perhaps the best training I could have had to prepare me to eventually become a financial aid officer. Receptionists – those front-line people who talk to students, parents, and other departments, either in person or on the phone, have to know a lot about ALL aspects of financial aid and be able to explain it simply and calmly.  I must admit that sometimes I flunked the calm bit….

My entire career in financial aid was spent at CMU, starting as a receptionist, then office manager, and when I finally completed my bachelor’s degree in political science, I was promoted to Assistant Director, and eventually became the Associate Director for Compliance and Client Services. In 1991 I became active in the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association (MSFAA) as a member of the Professional Development Committee.  In 1992 I was asked to represent Michigan on the MASFAA Conference Program Committee.   Thus, in the course of two years, my entire concept of financial aid evolved from just having a job, to establishing a professional career, which ultimately developed into a passion for what financial aid professionals do. I had the privilege of serving as president of MSFAA and MASFAA, and also as a Representative-at-Large on the NASFAA Board.

What did you like most about working in financial aid and being involved in MASFAA?

Working in financial aid helped me gain confidence in my ability to make a difference in the lives of the students and parents that are so completely dependent on us to not only help them get into college, but also to ultimately persist and graduate.  I guess I eventually became confident that I was “college material” after all!  Like all FAOs , there were many favorite components of my job, but I would  have to say that my passion for interpreting regulations and being the de facto University compliance officer were among the most challenging and rewarding of my responsibilities.

I cannot overstate what a game-changing experience it was to become involved in my state, regional, and national financial aid associations!  Financial aid people are like no others in the academic community.  We share, we problem-solve, we act as a sounding board, we support, we sympathize, and we celebrate together. And we make lifelong friends along the way!!

What advice might you suggest for someone beginning a career in financial aid?

I would encourage that person to learn as much about financial aid as possible.  Stated another way, don’t just learn your own particular job, but find out what all the other people in the aid office do. Financial aid is a multi-faceted profession and involves not only students and parents, but the entire academic institution, lenders and servicers, as well as state and federal entities. Additionally, I would encourage that individual to become active at the professional level as quickly as possible.  The training, professional development and networking at the state, regional and national level are incomparable and indispensable.

What do you feel has changed the most in our industry since you retired?

There is a much greater emphasis on accountability, transparency, simplification, cost, student loan debt, servicers, Congressional efforts to promote persistence vis-à-vis the 150% Rule and LEU, and Gainful Employment regulations.  Two years of work on the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act begins all over again with the political change in Congress for 2014….  Oh, what’s the question again?  Answer:  Same-o, same-o.  Everything old is new again!!

There is one area of financial aid that seems to always be problematic, especially to new professionals.  Exercising professional judgment presents many questions and at times, prevents aid officers from acting in the best interest of a student because of a misperceived reaction from the Department of Education.  I recall one incident when a student appealed the decision of a colleague regarding an independent override.  After meeting with the student, clarifying the obvious inconsistencies in his story, and gathering third party documentation, I over-turned the original decision and made the student independent.  This individual is now a highly successful national athlete, making millions of dollars a year, and is giving back to the community.

How have you been spending your retirement?

It took a bit of adjustment from being completely immersed in financial aid for almost 30 years to not going into the office every day!  I am still subscribed to finaid-l (send email message to FINAID-L-SUBSCRIBE-REQUEST@LISTS.PSU.EDU to subscribe), and of course, the NASFAA Today’s News, so I keep abreast of current issues, regulations, and challenges. I recently had the privilege of helping out two colleagues from other institutions, which, I have to confess, was more rewarding for me than it probably was for them!!  Also, I continue to serve on the MASFAA Board as chair of the Retiree Involvement Committee, which gives me the chance to remain in touch with the many, many friends I have made over the years while still making a contribution to our profession.

Retirement has provided more time to be involved in activities that are near and dear to me:  teaching English language classes to international students at CMU, volunteering at the local soup kitchen as a cook, expanding my involvement in the Lions Club, both at the local and District level, more time for church activities, and of course, more time for all things related to sports at CMU! I tell people that it’s in my marriage contract to go to all – or most all – sporting events at CMU. Trumping all of these things, of course, is family.  I am blessed to still have both of my parents, and spend a lot of time with them as they cope with the health issues related to being 92 and 88 years old respectively.  We have one child in California, one in Virginia, one in Arizona and one in Michigan, so our travels take us across the country.  Life is good – I highly recommend retirement!!

What final thoughts would you like to share with MASFAA members?

There are many rewarding jobs/careers/professions in which one can be involved.  I will be forever grateful that through sheer happenstance I wound up in a financial aid office and had the opportunity to help literally thousands of students obtain a postsecondary degree.  America is the only country in the world where opportunity, desire, and determination are the keys to personal success.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Notice of Executive Council Meeting January 22-23

This post is a notice that the MASFAA Executive Council has an upcoming meeting in Coralville, Iowa on January 22nd and 23rd to conduct association business. Members can contact leaders and representatives if you would like a concern to be addressed at the meeting.

MASFAA Summer Institute 2015 Headed to Indianapolis

(by Marvin Smith and Karla Weber, MASFAA Summer Institute Co-Chairs)

Happy New Year from your MASFAA Summer Institute committee! As you make plans for the 2015 year ahead we encourage you to think about a training plan for the new aid administrators in your office. If you are a new (or newer) financial aid administrator, let your supervisor know that you want to go to Indianapolis June 1 through 5, 2015 to experience a MASFAA tradition—one of the greatest things MASFAA offers to the membership—the MASFAA Summer Institute.

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Campus
The MASFAA Summer Institute, or “SI”, is a tradition that has provided hundreds of aid professionals across the Midwest a solid training background in financial aid fundamentals. Maybe even more importantly, SI provides participants the opportunity to network and learn from colleagues across the Midwest—and develop professional relationships that may last a lifetime.

Participants will learn from expert MASFAA faculty, have the opportunity to become NASFAA credentialed in certain areas—and have some fun along the way. Participants will live and learn on the dynamic campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Those that have been around MASFAA for a while may remember that Butler University hosted quite a few MASFAA SI events. So the MASFAA SI tradition continues in 2015 in Indianapolis.

Downtown Indianapolis
Indianapolis is a city that embraces something called “Hoosier Hospitality”. Indianapolis is proud to host events from Big Ten sports championships to Super Bowl XLVI—and now MASFAA SI in 2015. So mark your calendars for the first week of June 2015 and watch for registration information to be announced in the coming months.

To help folks understand what MASFAA SI is all about we would like to ask MASFAA SI alumni out there to post a comment and let readers know what made MASFAA SI a great experience for you—and when and where you attended. You can also tweet comments with the hashtag #myMASFAA. Thank you!

Indianapolis Indians Victory Field Near IUPUI Campus

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blog Series Inspires Higher Education Professionals in 2015

(by Liz Gross, Social Media & Market Research Strategist at Great Lakes)

We’re two weeks into the new year. Hopefully, you haven’t given up on your resolution yet—or maybe you haven’t gotten around to making one. I’d like to tell you about Resolve 2015, a series of 30 blog posts in 30 days from higher ed professionals in the U.S. and Canada designed to inform and inspire you to make 2015 the best year of your career.

The series kicked off on January 2 with reflective post from Lisa Endersby, National Chair-Elect of the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community, which encouraged us to define success by ourselves and for ourselves, not by what we’re seeing and hearing from others. In a world full of “humble brags” on social media, this is a very poignant message.

MASFAA institutions have been well-represented so far:

The rest of the country, as well as our neighbors to the north, contributed many Resolve 2015 posts. But, the MASFAA region has even more authors on the docket!
  • Keri Duce, external relations manager at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will publish a post tomorrow about the importance of understanding your sphere of control.
  • Deborah Maue, senior strategist at mStoner (based in Chicago), is writing about mindful meditation.
  • Laurie Berry, director of Housing & Residence Life at the University of Southern Indiana, will encourage us to be flexible when it comes to defining goal achievement and success.
  • Becca Obergefell, director of the Center for Student Involvement at Ohio Dominican University, will remind us all that writing simply for ourselves (journaling) can be a powerful personal and professional development exercise.
  • Matt Klawitter, program director at the University of Notre Dame, will write about the importance of getting to know your colleagues all across campus.
  • Mandi Stewart, transfer admissions counselor at Lincoln College, is going to give us tips to stay in contact with long-distance colleagues.
  • Mickey Fitch, director of Residence Life at The College of St. Scholastica, will walk us through how to create a professional development plan.
  • Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Associate Vice President for Student Auxiliary Services at Northwestern University, will remind of us the opportunity to look outside of higher education to learn new skills.

Don’t Miss A Single Post!

All of the posts are hosted on my personal blog, Gross, Point-Blank. If you’d like to receive every post for the rest of the series in your inbox, you can subscribe here. This will also add you to my mailing list, so you’ll continue to receive future blog posts when Resolve 2015 is finished. I’ll be blogging much less frequently (usually only a few times per month), and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Monday, January 5, 2015

15 Books Financial Aid Administrators Should Read in 2015

If you're looking for some great reads for financial aid administrators in 2015, you've come to the right place! We've assembled a diverse list of books you might enjoy (in no particular order). From some of the most talked about higher education readings to classic leadership development material, this list is great for new financial aid administrators and veterans alike! And, if you read one of these this year, please let us know! A book review blog post would make an excellent edition to MASFAA Moments!

Developing a list of only 15 books proved quite difficult, so we've got a list of honorable mentions that we will post in the near future. Keep an eye on the blog each Monday for new posts!

If you have already read one of these books, plan to choose a book to read from the list, or willing to organize a book club, please feel free to post in the comments section. Even if you know of a great book that is not mentioned here, please feel free to comment. Enjoy!

American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know
by Goldie Blumenstyk

October 13, 2014 (216 pages) Image via Amazon
"As a nationally regarded reporter, Goldie Blumenstyk brings a unique and objective perspective to the nation's rapidly changing higher education context. This book is an impressive, comprehensive overview of the most pressing-and sometimes controversial-issues confronting higher education today." Jamie Merisotis, President, Lumina Foundation 

by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers

July 29, 2013 (165 pages) Image via Amazon
"...very helpful in setting our association on a pathway towards ongoing success!!" Robert Juhasz

If you like this book, you might also like Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations by the same authors. 

October 14, 2014 (288 pages) Image via Amazon
"In Reinventing Financial Aid, Andrew P. Kelly and Sara Goldrick-Rab present a variety of perspectives and insights on ways to improve the effectiveness of student aid funding. They highlight the need to question assumptions, test ideas, and rigorously research what works and what does not, so as to identify and avoid the unintended consequences of well-intended policies." Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher,

You're the Director: A Guide to Leadership in Student Financial Aid
by Sarah Baumhoff, Lisa G. Blazer, Linda Conard, Eric K. Cooper, 
Erika Cox, Ron Day, Justin Draeger, Pamela W. Fowler, Sara Beth Holman, Gigi Jones, David Levy, Lisanne Masterson, Dawn McCoy, Barbara Miller, Billy Satterfield, Doug Severs, Barry Simmons, Leslie Turner, and Jim Trimboli

July 24, 2012 (218 pages) Image via Amazon
"Whether you're the financial aid director or an understudy rehearsing for the leading role, our newest publication, You're the Director: A Guide to Leadership in Student Financial Aid, can help. This book is our first-ever anthology, written by financial aid professionals for financial aid professionals. Think of the authors as your personal acting coaches! The pages are packed with their guidance on leadership concepts, long-term planning, change management, budgeting, and so much more." National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)

by Jim Collins

November 22, 2005 (35 pages) Image via Amazon

"I have direct experience in the social sector with over twenty-five years as an advisor or board member of several, varied non-profits. Good to Great and the Social Sectors resonated with me as it fills a very deep void in social sector leadership guidance." Thomas M. Loarie

This short book is a nice companion piece to Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by the same author.

October 21, 2014 (208 pages) Image via Amazon
"Summer Melt addresses an urgent national issue. These practical strategies for increasing college enrollment among underrepresented students will affect the lives of thousands of young people across the country." Teresa A. Sullivan, president, University of Virginia

by Reynol Junco

August 18, 2014 (368 pages) Image via Amazon
“Rey Junco’s important new book provides a valuable corrective to rhetoric demonizing youth engagement with Facebook and other social networks. Armed with a wealth of research, including his own in-depth studies, Junco shows that social network services are an important locus for students’ identity development and an important space for student affairs professionals to understand and navigate.” Ethan Zuckerman, director, Center for Civic Media, MIT and principal research scientist, MIT Media Lab

Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality
by Elizabeth A. Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton

April 8, 2013 (344 pages) Image via Amazon
"With astute observations and insights, Paying for the Party sheds new light on the lived experiences of contemporary students. It is a very important piece of scholarship that will inform the national discourse on the current state of U.S. higher education." Richard Arum, author of Academically Adrift

by Raechele Pope, Amy L. Reynolds, and John A. Mueller

July 21, 2014 (224 pages) Image via Amazon
“To demonstrate that acknowledging, understanding, and engaging with diverse others is not only the right thing to do educationally, politically, and socially, but actually possible to achieve, Creating Multicultural Change on Campus amasses in a skillful way much of the most significant scholarship on the matter. […] The authors offer theories but wisely couple them with concrete practices, examples, advice, checklists, and constant reassuring words....” Caryn McTighe Musil, Senior Scholar and Director of Civic Learning and Democracy Initiatives, The Association of American Colleges and Universities

by Sheryl Sandberg

March 11, 2013 (240 pages) Image via Amazon

“Sheryl Sandberg has done a tremendous service with this work. It offers a vital and sharp message, for women and men. We need great leaders in key seats spread throughout all sectors of society, and we simply cannot afford to lose 50 percent of the smartest, most capable people from competing for those seats. Provocative, practical, and inspired!” Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

by Ron Lieber

February 3, 2015 (256 pages) Image via Amazon
“All of us worry about how to give our kids a proper dose of perspective and gratitude. Ron Lieber’s explanation of how money conversations imprint these good values (and so much more) is just the thing parents need to read right now.” Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege

by Suzanne Mettler

March 11, 2014 (272 pages) Image via Amazon
“Degrees of Inequality is a trenchant analysis of how our severely dysfunctional politics has undermined one of the foundational pillars of the American Dream. Mettler powerfully and convincingly demonstrates how partisan polarization and plutocratic biases have shaped higher education policy in recent years and why reform is so urgent. An engaging and essential read for citizens and policymakers alike.” Thomas E. Mann, author of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks

by Derek Bok

August 25, 2013 (496 pages) Image via Amazon
"A detailed progress report on the challenges and opportunities facing our nation's colleges and universities. . . . Competition among schools produces benefits and causes problems. Most of the important ones are addressed in Bok's helpful volume. I hope he is right that we already have the ingredients in place to make the necessary reforms. I know we need university leaders like him to help activate those ingredients so that American higher education can continue to contribute in vital ways to our culture, our economy and our polity."Michael S. Roth, Washington Post

by Mindy Hall

October 27, 2014 (168 pages) Image via Amazon
"Being 'intentional' is a simple concept that when applied is so powerful. It allows you to shape how you engage and are viewed as a leader. This book is going to be a must-read for my entire leadership team." Michael Conway, Executive Vice President of Global ChannelDevelopment, Starbucks

"The best leaders I have met never stop looking for ways to improve. Because Dr. Hall's stories and tools are deceptively simple to use but profoundly real in their impact, these leaders will want to keep this book close at hand." Christi Shaw, President, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Reframing Academic Leadership
by Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos

January 25, 2011 (288 pages) Image via Amazon
"Too often, higher education administrators understand neither the organizations they lead, nor the theories that provide them with knowledge they can apply to this complex task. Bolman and Gallos have written a practical, lucid text that brings together illustrative vignettes and robust frameworks for diagnosing and managing colleges and universities. I recommend this book to new and experienced higher education administrators who will routinely confront difficult people, structures, and cultures in their workplaces." Christopher Morphew, professor and chair, Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, College of Education, University of Iowa