Monday, February 9, 2015

Michigan Update: 2015 Winter Training

(by Val Meyers, Michigan Representative)

There were many great events at the MSFAA Winter Conference, held January 25-28, 2015 in Dearborn, Michigan, but I would focus on two in particular.

The first was a response to a conversation that many of us have had in the past with our Federal Trainer(s) – specifically, that we as financial aid administrators are often being told to make sure our schools follow a certain policy or file a certain report, when the data involved has nothing to do with financial aid, nor is it in our sphere of influence to make it happen.  He suggested that we find a way to bring our colleagues to a conference where they could hear the news directly from a Federal Trainer, in the hope that this might reinforce the importance of compliance.

So, with the formation of an ad-hoc committee to work with the MSFAA conference committees, we were able to set aside a day during the conference for a drive-in event for Bursar and Registrar staff. In addition to sessions from our federal trainer, the attendees also heard from Megan McClean of NASFAA about what is going on in DC that might affect them.  There was a session on how the Bursar and Financial Aid office can work collaboratively (presented by a former aid administrator who is now in the bursar area); a presentation of State of Michigan aid for Bursars, and information on Military and Veterans Affairs for Registrars.

MSFAA had hoped to attract about 60 participants to this track, but ended up recording 117 attendees.  Many of them were very enthusiastic about what they had learned, and more than one expressed the understanding that they need to review the procedures in their offices to see that they are in compliance.

Our second highlight came in the person of our Federal Trainer.  Since we have lost two training officers from the Chicago region, David Bartnicki from the Atlanta office graciously came to our conference to present our federal sessions.  As expected, he was knowledgeable and direct, a good communicator, well versed in the regulations.

However, what we could not expect was that he would end his sessions with a song.  To the tune of “What a Wonderful World”, he sang to us about seeing SARs and tax transcripts.  Later on, he ended his final session with a rousing renditions of “When the Feds Come Marching In”.  The creativity and humor was very much appreciated by the 242 MSFAA members in attendance.

Other items of note included the MSFAA Silent Auction charity, an annual MSFAA tradition, which this year raised over $6,000 for the Fostering Futures scholarship program of the State of Michigan, which supplies scholarships and guidance to students from the foster care system to go on to college. The leaders of MSFAA are proud of the generosity shown by our members in raising money for this year’s charity.

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