Monday, September 28, 2015

The MASFAA Reality Life Zone

MASFAA Conference Attendees,

This year MASFAA will be providing The Reality Life Zone to 100 West Liberty High School ninth graders!   The event will be held on site at the Marriot Coralville October 6th from 9 AM to 11 AM.

The Reality Life Zone is an interactive financial management and literacy event where the students will walk to each station, and be provided options regarding transportation, housing, and other personal financial decision while trying to balance a budget.  This fun and engaging event will be sure to spark interest and curiosity in the students while they learn  to make responsible choices now and in the future. 

Please consider volunteering for one of the two events using this link to register and sign up for a session.  Perhaps you may even find this is something you will want to take back to your community in some form.

You are required to sign up for a membership login, but it is simple and does not require any personal information besides username and password.  We are trying to ensure that anyone who wants to volunteer for the event can do so before the conference and know there assignments before the conference starts.  

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at or 734-763-2941.

Steven Foster, Access Chair

One More Week

One week from now the 53rd annual MASFAA Conference will be well underway.  Pre-conference board meetings, welcome speeches and the first night of conference activities will all be in the rearview mirror by this time next week.  A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a former MASFAA board member asking me how the year had gone and if I was excited, happy or sad that my term as President was coming to a close.  I hadn’t really thought much about it up until that point, but I have thought about it quite a bit since.  The answer is that I’m excited to see the hard work that several committees have done come to fruition during this conference, I’m excited to see colleagues from the nine states I only see once or twice a year and happy that I’ll be done leading meetings at the conclusion of the conference.  Sad?  As for feeling sad, I’m not sure.  Maybe I’ll get a little whimsical Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, but I’m more likely to just be exhausted by that point!  In regards to the year we’ve had, I believe that 2015 has been a positive year for the association.  Your executive board has laid a strong foundation for the new strategic plan to be built upon between now and 2019.  The blog you are reading is just one of the many accomplishments of the group.  It is my observation that President-elect Susan Swisher and her board are ready to continue the good work as soon as the conference comes to a close.  As for me, my work is not over yet.  I am currently serving as the MASFAA representative on the NASFAA Board and will also serve as our Association Governance and Planning Chair as well as Nominations and Elections Chair, which brings me to my final point.  It takes a lot of great people to make any association run smoothly.  I would like to thank everyone who has served MASFAA this year and I would like to encourage each of you to either nominate someone for a MASFAA office or think about running yourself.  I’m already making a list, and it’s not even Christmas yet!

Best Wishes,
Aaron Steffens

MASFAA President

Supplement Your Entrance Counseling — But Heed Guidelines

Submitted by: Angela Henry, USA Funds Account Executive

Thinking of supplementing the required entrance counseling for some or all of your first-time student loan borrowers, but not sure you’re adhering to recently issued federal guidance?
You can supplement the minimum requirements for entrance counseling for all student-borrowers who have not yet completed loan counseling at your school or another school. You even can customize your loan counseling information just for those groups your targeted default prevention has shown are most at risk of defaulting. But supplemental enhancements to entrance counseling information must be reasonable in amount and scope, and they must allow students to receive federal loan funds in a timely manner.

Financial literacy
The U.S. Department of Education addressed loan counseling requirements and flexibilities in this spring’s Dear Colleague Letter GEN-15-06. The Department indicated that several activities are permissible beyond what is required by regulations — including anything from completion of a budgeting worksheet, to a review of online lessons, to attendance at a presentation.
The letter specifically cites as acceptable those activities “designed to improve financial literacy and the student’s understanding of the implications of borrowing.” Again, though, those additional activities must be reasonable in amount and scope. And they cannot “unreasonably impede a student’s ability to borrow.”

Relevant topics
If you’re thinking of adding some financial literacy training to your required entrance counseling, try to find topics that are most relevant to your students. The following are some topics that would be a great place to start.

Student loan management — Teach students how to make informed decisions about their borrowing and avoid over-borrowing. Have borrowers research and compare expected income with estimated monthly student loan payments. Then consider sending borrowers information about their student loan indebtedness and estimated monthly payment annually to help keep them informed of their debt load.
  • Student loan repayment — Explain how students can gather information about loans and repayment plans, options available to borrowers who are having repayment trouble, and borrowers’ responsibilities for repaying federal student loans.
  • Budgeting — Teach students how to determine the amount of money they really have for their budgets on a monthly basis, take them through the process of creating a budget, share money-saving strategies, and provide resources to determine projected salaries for different career choices.
Continued learning
It’s worth noting that financial literacy training you require as part of your entrance counseling can plant the seed for broader interest in personal finance topics.

You can choose to create additional learning opportunities for your students throughout their academic careers. In fact, you can recommend additional counseling any time after completion of mandatory entrance loan counseling. Just be careful not to make completion of additional counseling a condition for receipt of Direct Loan funds.

Supplementing your required entrance counseling can be a great way to help your students avoid the pitfalls of student loan default. So consider topics that would work best for your students and your school, determine whether you want to target certain groups in your enhanced entrance counseling, and evaluate whether your plans fall within federal guidelines.

If you need help with your default prevention planning, targeting borrowers at risk of defaulting, or financial literacy education, visit

Monday, September 21, 2015

Access Award Deadline Extended

Access Award application deadline extended until Thursday September 24, 2015 by 5 pm.  We have received a few entries so far, but would love to receive more.  If you have any questions, please contact Steven Foster, Access Chair at or 734-763-2941.

The Valuable Default Prevention Resource You May Have Forgotten

Submitted by: Angela Henry, USA Funds Account Executive

If you’re following the best practice of involving many areas of the campus in your default prevention efforts, did you remember to include students in that mix?

If you’re not enlisting the help of your students, you’re missing a valuable resource for driving home messages about debt management, financial literacy and student success.

When working to communicate with students about the importance of completing their education and repaying their student loans, it’s important to call on current and former students to provide input and help spread the word. After all, students relate to their fellow students — and often their insight and assistance is more impactful than anything a faculty or staff member can do or say.

Here are a few ways to include students in your default prevention efforts:

Peer mentoring
I’m a big believer in peer mentoring, which has been successful at a number of schools. Your students most likely are going to discuss money matters with their peers on campus anyway, so why not make sure they’re hearing from peers through a formal mentoring program that offers guidance based on accurate, relevant information?

Entrance and exit counseling
Student testimonials make a strong statement, so include in loan counseling current and recent students who can speak to the lessons they learned about borrowing for college. These current and former students can provide valuable information about how to successfully manage debt, based on their own money management successes and failures.

Financial literacy presentations
Train a group of students to be financial literacy presenters. Whether in classes or at special events, these students can follow a prescribed set of lessons that provide helpful information about financial literacy and succeeding in higher education.

Planning and communicating
Include students on an advisory board for financial aid activities, to gather input about the most effective ways to assist students in paying for their education and repaying their loans. Students also should play a major role in efforts to get out the word about your default prevention activities and events.

Where to begin
If you need help finding current and former students to help with your default prevention activities, student government, professors, student-employees and alumni relations staff at your institution are all great resources.

If you’re looking for information and assistance with your default prevention planning, offers a variety of tools and solutions.

MASFAA Conference Entertainment

MASFAA Entertainment Update:
ü A Charity Challenge is being implemented this year in addition to the silent auction!  The individual state raising the most money for the charity will be the honored recipient of a beautiful trophy to display until the next MASFAA conference, plus bragging rights for an entire year!  Additionally, all donations received for the silent auction will earn bonus points comparative to the item’s actual dollar value.  The higher the item’s value, the more bonus points earned!

ü A Trivia Event is planned for Tuesday evening at the Marriott following dinner on your own.  It’s another way your state can increase your fundraising rank!  Form one or more trivia teams of 8 people per team.  Each person’s $10 entry fee will be donated to the charity, and bonus round winners during the tournament will also earn more money.  The more teams your state enters, the better the odds!  Hint:  Teams with clever themes and costumes earn even more bonus points!  Trivia teams and members will be collected at the conference registration table.

ü Remember to bring your favorite western gear to wear on Monday night.  Leave your spurs at home though – you don’t want to set off the airline detectors!  Our evening at the Celebration Farm will include an opportunity to learn country line dancing from some real pros!

ü Check out these All Stars!  If you’ve never seen a roller derby LIVE, here’s your chance!  The Old Capitol City Roller Girls will conduct an exclusive scrimmage for us in the Convention Center following dinner Sunday evening.  You’ll have a front row seat for this full contact sport and experience all of the action first-hand!  Don’t miss it!
If you are coming in early to the conference check out these  fun activates in the Coralville area:

The Northside Oktoberfest benefiting Iowa City area non-profits showcases the Bohemian nature of the Northside Marketplace with great craft beers, neighborhood food, beer games, Iowa football and much more!  Join us on Saturday, October 3rd as we take over the streets of the Northside, just blocks north of downtown Iowa City to celebrate the 20th year of the Iowa City Brewfest!

Celebrating Cultural Diversity Festival is an annual event that is going on its 25th and final year at the University of Iowa. It celebrates the different cultures that make up the campus and its surrounding communities, through performance, crafts, food, and educational experiencesClick here for more information.

Friday Oct 2, 2015 - Sunday Oct 4, 2015 Millstream Brewing
2:45 p.m.: Tapping of the Oktoberfest Keg
4 to 8 p.m.: Dogs On Skis will be getting our Oktoberfest celebrations of to a rockin' start! We'll have Amana brats right off the grill all weekend.

12 to 4 p.m.: Barry Boyce Band
5 to 9 p.m.: Live music in the outdoor biergarten

12 to 4 p.m.: Nick Stika playing in the outdoor biergarten

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

MASFAA Conference: Jeff Baker to Present

Back By Popular Demand! The 2015 MASFAA Conference Registration is back to $365 for one more week!

Featuring guest speaker Jeff Baker from the Department of Education!

The 2015 MASFAA Conference Growing Seeds for Success promises to be a real Blockbuster!!  Grab some popcorn and click on the video above to view a sneak preview of what’s in store for you! 

Register Now!  Time is running out!

Jeff Baker
US Department of Education
Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid

Jeff Baker has been a student aid professional for over 30 years. He began his career at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and later spent more than 20 years at San Francisco State University. Before entering the field of financial aid, Jeff was a public school teacher in the Port Washington Wisconsin public schools. For the past 15 years Jeff has been employed at the Department of Education, most recently as Director of the Policy Liaison and Implementation Staff for Federal Student Aid. In that capacity, Jeff advises senior FSA management on statutory, regulatory, and policy matters related to the Title IV Federal student aid programs. Jeff earned a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Northeastern University, and a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin. He also completed postgraduate work in higher education administration at the University of Southern California.

Jeff has received numerous awards including the NASFAA Meritorious Achievement Award, the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award, the NASFAA State Leadership Award, the WASFAA Creative Leadership Award, the WASFAA Lifetime Membership Award, the CASFAA Distinguished Service Award, the CASFAA President’s Award, the CASFAA Honorary Lifetime Membership Award, and the Distinguished Service Award from the College Board.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Clock Is Ticking! Register for MASFAA 2015 today!

You do not want to miss this year’s MASFAA Conference!  Take advantage of the $365 registration fee by this Monday, September 7. It goes up by $50 after that; and unless you want to register during a long Labor Day weekend, you might as well click here now: Register me for MASFAA 2015 in Coralville, Iowa

We have a lot in store for you in this year’s Grow Connections for Success conference.  There will be great dynamic speakers, interesting topics and sessions to meet everybody’s needs.  Need to convince somebody to allow you to attend?  In case you have not done so already, share this with that person right away:

Here are the Top 10 reasons to attend the 2015 MASFAA Conference:

  1. Key note speaker Pete the Planner, who will make us laugh as he teaches us how to better our own and positively influence our students financial lives.
  2. The MASFAA Charity Challenge
  3. Live entertainment on Sunday night
  4. Get the latest information from our vendors in the Exhibit Area or during one of their Business Solution Sessions.
  5. Listen to the Enrollment Management Panel while enjoying lunch.
  6. The Federal Update, hear the latest updates from our Federal Trainer
  7. More than 45 different interest sessions to choose from in addition to an opportunity to earn your NASFAA Credentials by attending the pre-conference on Student Eligibility
  8. Kick back on Monday night for the hog roast and line-dancing at Celebration Farms
  9. Experience the Real Life Zone
  10. Catch up with  and learn from all your MASFAA colleagues 

Hope to see you there!