Monday, July 27, 2015

MASFAA Leader Spotlight: Aaron Steffens

Welcome to another one of our MASFAA Leader Spotlight posts. Throughout the year, we'll interview leaders on the MASFAA Executive Council. This post features MASFAA President Aaron Steffens.  Aaron is the Associate Director of Financial Aid at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

How did you get started in financial aid? 

Like many aid administrators, I found my way into financial aid by accident.  I was working as an Admissions Counselor at Loras College in1998 and assisting the financial aid office by proofing award packages.  This led to me serving on a search committee for a financial aid counselor.  When the search was deemed unsuccessful, my Dean turned to me and asked if I would be interested in filling the position.  I agreed and the rest is history.

How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?

In both cases, my first involvement with IASFAA (the Iowa association) and MASFAA was through attending conferences.  Oddly enough, my first committee involvement in each association was membership on the Program Committee.

Why were you interested in a MASFAA leadership role? 

I was interested in serving MASFAA because I strongly believe in the major pieces of its mission.  One of the foundations of this organization is to provide quality training and professional development opportunities.  This is so important because of the complexities of our profession and I believe that MASFAA does a fine job of providing these opportunities.  I also see a need for us to work with other associations to advocate for the financial aid programs that provide so many of our students with the financial tools to secure a college education.

What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid? 

Take advantage of any opportunity to attend a training workshop or conference.  In doing so, begin to build your professional financial aid network of colleagues and friends.  Having a network of colleagues to reach out to has been key to my success.

What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA? 

I strongly believe involvement in MASFAA should first start with successful involvement in your home state.  Being active in your state association first gives people in your own state the ability to learn about your work and recommend you for a MASFAA role.  While any MASFAA member can complete a volunteer form or ask a MASFAA board member about serving, we do look to the leadership in that state to tell us more about a prospective volunteer’s involvement and success at the state level.

What have you learned through your state or regional association that you were not expecting?

I have learned that it takes a lot of passion, energy and people to keep an association running smoothly.  When I attended my first 3 or 4 conferences, I never really gave it a thought as to how much behind-the-scenes work goes into making these successful.  

What did you learn during your leadership term? 

As President of MASFAA, I am still learning something new each week.  The presidency is a dichotomy of sorts.  It is very rewarding to lead one of the six regional associations in the country, but at the same time it can be lonely.  You get the ability to work with many great people, but you are also bombarded with information and decisions to make.  I’ve also learned that it is sometimes hard to predict what things may cause controversy.  

What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the aid office? 

I enjoy riding bike on local trails and working on the family farm.  Working with cattle and driving tractor are usually good ways for me to relieve stress and reflect on various things.  I also enjoy attending household and farm auctions as you never know what you may find…or buy!

Final Thoughts? 

Financial aid is a complex, but rewarding profession.  You are assisting students in making their dreams into reality.  Professional training and development is a must if you want to keep up with all of the changes in our industry.  If you don’t like change, this isn’t the profession for you.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Ever-Changing Executive Council

As many of you may already know, Justin Chase Brown recently left his position at the University of Missouri to become the Financial Aid Director at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While we wish Justin all the best in his new position, we are saddened by the fact that this move also takes him from the MASFAA region. Justin’s departure actually created two vacancies on the MASFAA board. The first was an immediate vacancy as chair of the Electronic Communications and Initiatives committee. Thankfully, Melissa Haberman has agreed to assume that role earlier than scheduled. Justin was also elected to assume the role of Vice President at the October board meeting. After careful review of our options, Association Governance recommended that the position be offered to Craig Slaughter. Craig had also run for the position of Vice President on the ballot earlier this year. Executive council recently convened and confirmed Craig’s nomination. Craig brings a wealth of experience to the MASFAA board having served as the association’s secretary and currently serving as the Web Services chair. In addition to serving MASFAA, Craig has just begun his second year as a Delegate on the NASFAA board. Please take a moment to wish both Craig and Melissa all the best in their new roles! Aaron Steffens MASFAA President

Monday, July 6, 2015

What's Special About October 4th?

So what is so special about October 4th?

On October 4, 1911, the first public elevator opened
October 4, 1957, the classic family show, Leave it to Beaver debuted on CBS
33 years after Leave it to Beaver debuted, the soapy drama Beverly Hills 90210 premiered - certainly a departure from the innocent days of the Beave
In Sweden, they celebrate National cinnamon Roll Day - those Swedes really know how to make a party out of anything!

But the most important event that happening on October 4th is the opening day of the 2015 MASFAA conference, “Growing Connections for Success”, at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center! The Conference Planning Committee along with many other volunteers are putting together a MASFAA conference that’s promised to be educational, informational and full of fun activities!

There will be a pre-conference NASFAA credentialing session on Student Eligibility. This is a great opportunity to get credentialed in person with your MASFAA friends and colleagues.

Hear Pete the Planner, an award winning comedian help us understand “Why College Savings Has Nothing to do with Money”.

And there are many more exciting conference highlights to be reviewed on the MASFAA Mini-site!

The Iowa folks have also planned some fun entertainment for Sunday and Monday nights, too. Everyone is so “Happy” to be hosting MASFAA in Coralville Iowa! 

Registration is open so go check out the MASFAA Mini-site today!