Monday, December 21, 2015

Missouri Update 2015

Amy Hager

The Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Personnel (MASFAP) hosted their fall conference at the Lodge of Four Season, at Lake Ozark, Missouri, from November 9 - 11th. Fitting with the theme, “May the Funds Be With You,” there were sessions for all levels:  the Yodas (Directors/Seasoned Financial Aid Administrators); the Lukes (Mid-Level Personnel), and the Jedi Padawans (Financial Aid Newcomers). The conference was highlighted by many distinguished guest speakers holding a variety of positions throughout higher education. Keynote Speaker Anya Kamenetz, who is an Educational Futurist, Lead DIGITAL Education Reporter for NPR and an acclaimed author, shared her expertise and passion for understanding the complexities of how we learn, work, and live in the new millennium as well as her insightful views about the future of higher education.
-- More info about the conference can be found in November's MASFAP Monitor.

2015 was the first year MASFAP offered just one conference; in the past, we hosted a spring and a fall conference. Our Professional Development Committee stepped up to the task and offered numerous training opportunities throughout the year, which helped ease the transition from two to one conference. Among the PD events offered were Business Office Training, Registrar Office Training, You Be the Auditor/Program Review Panel Discussion, Director’s Roundtable, and a MASFAP Town Hall. Additionally, MASFAP offered several NASFAA Credentialing opportunities at no cost for members. The events were well attended and, to date, MASFAP members have earned 225 credentials in the following courses: Verification, Packaging, Federal Methodology, Professional Judgement, Direct Loans, Campus Based Programs, Federal Pell Grant Program, R2T4, Satisfactory Academic Progress, Cost of Attendance and Student Eligibility. We are very proud of our training programs which stimulate further professional growth for our members.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Seeking Nominations

The MASFAA Nominations and Elections Committee is seeking officer nominations for the 2016-17 year.  Positions available include President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer-Elect and two Delegate At Large positions.  Please consider nominating yourself or fellow colleagues to serve MASFAA.  Additional details about each position and the Nominations and Elections form can be found on the MASFAA website at

The nomination process is open until January 29.  Once nominations close, the Nominations and Elections Committee will assemble the ballot with the goal of having it posted by March 1st.  Once the ballot is posted, current MASFAA members will have fourteen days to vote.

Questions regarding the process or any of the open positions can be directed to a member of the Nominations and Elections Committee.  Members include Kathy Bialk (WV), Sara Beth Holman (WI), Angela Johnson (OH), Buddy Mayfield (MO), Thomas Ratliff (IN), Rick Shipman (MI), Aaron Steffens (IA), Susan Swisher (IL), and David Vikander (MN).

We look forward to reviewing many nominations this year!

Happy Holidays!!

Aaron Steffens

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thoughts for 2016 - Federal Issues

Brian Weingert
MASFAA Federal Issues, 2016 Chair

December is normally a great time of year to reflect back on the past year on both the successes and failures. This year seems to be different as I find myself thinking a lot about the upcoming year and what is lurking around the corner. I’m sure everyone has talked about PPY; I guess we are supposed to call it early FAFSA and specified tax year. So I’m thinking about if the updates to our financial aid management system will be ready to begin processing early? When will the cost of attendance be set? When will award letters begin to be sent? How is it going to impact our outreach efforts, when we offer financial aid nights, FAFSA workshops, and College Goal Sunday, and how we are going to communicate these changes to the students and families we serve?

The HEA Reauthorization expired in 2013. Can we expect reauthorization in an election year? Or are we looking at a replay of the 2003 reauthorization where Congress passed 13 extensions until Congress finally passed Reauthorization in 2008? Is reauthorization just going to be more consumer disclosures, more requirements that lead to more regulations and complexity, and more responsibilities for financial aid professionals to remain compliant that takes away time from counseling students?

As you may be aware, beginning with the 2016-2017 FAFSA, schools will no longer be able to see the list of schools that a student lists on the ISIR, except their own school code. What you may not be aware of is beginning with 2017-18, the Department of Education is discussing mixing the order of the schools on the ISIR that is sent to your state grant agency. This is going to impact each state a little differently depending on how your state processes its state aid programs. This may lead some states to develop another application or another process that a student will have to go through to let a state know what school to award their state aid at.

It would be nice to be able to take a moment to reflect on the past year. While those days may be gone, we can definitely say there is hardly a dull moment in financial aid and 2016 is going to be an interesting year for all of us.

10 Tips to Help Your Students Detect and Avoid Identity Theft

Submitted by Becky Davis, Senior Marketing Associate
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, and young people between the ages of 18-24 are the most likely to be affected. We've compiled a list of tips for you to share with your students to help them protect their personal information, assets, and credit. You can also direct your students to the Federal Trade Commission's identity theft and data security resources.
  1. Protect personal information such as your full name, birth date, Social Security number, and financial and medical account numbers.
  2. Be on alert for phone, online, or email scams that ask for any of your personal information. Securely dispose of (e.g., shred) printed materials that contain this type of information.
  3. Take a few moments to open and read the correspondence you receive so that you can proactively identify invoices or notices for accounts you may not have authorized.
  4. Review your monthly statements and immediately contact the financial institution, merchant, or health care provider about possible fraudulent charges or discrepancies.
  5. Use secure Wi-Fi when accessing sensitive information online. Before entering personal information, look for https:// in the site's URL. This helps protect the privacy and integrity of data exchanged online.
  6. Create strong passwords, use two-step account verification when available, and avoid using the same password on multiple sites.
  7. Be aware some identity protection services may use deceptive marketing practices to solicit customers. Generally, you can protect your accounts and check your credit statements and reports on your own.
  8. If you think your Social Security number may have been compromised, putting a security freeze on your credit reports denies new creditors access to your file if anyone (including you) attempts to open new accounts in your name. Keep in mind that freezing/unfreezing your reports may incur a small fee.
  9. Set up text and/or email alerts for your accounts to automatically inform you when unusual or unauthorized activity may be occurring. You can often set alerts based on the amount charged or a specific number of charges in a 24 hour period.
  10. The three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—are required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once per year. For more information, including identity theft and fraud protection tips, go to

Becky Davis is a Senior Marketing Associate with Great Lakes, serving schools in Missouri, Mississippi, and Florida. You can reach Becky at (877)215-7693, or by email at Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at

Monday, December 7, 2015

Put Student Debt Report Recommendations to Work at Your School

Submitted by: Angela Henry, USA Funds Account Executive

The Institute for College Access & Success’ 10th annual report onstudent debt at graduation has a host of valuable findings and recommendations — and serves as a great starting point for developing action items to address default prevention at your school.

StudentDebt and the Class of 2014” has new national, state-by-state and college-level findings about recent bachelor’s degree recipients and a look at 10-year trends. First, a few key findings from the report worth noting:

  • Seven in 10 graduates of public and private institutions in 2014 had student loan debt, the same figure as that for 2013 graduates. In 2014, private student loans comprised about one-sixth of that debt.
  • Per-graduate borrowing averaged $28,950 for 2014 graduates, up 2 percent from the 2013 average of $28,400.
  • Graduates from 2014 were more likely to have student loan debt than were 2004 graduates, with 69 percent of 2014 graduates in debt compared with 65 percent of 2004 graduates.
  • The level of debt for 2014 graduates was much higher than that for 2004 graduates. The $28,950 average debt at graduation for 2014 graduates represents an increase of 56 percent when compared with 2004’s average of $18,550. That increase is more than double the rate of inflation over that period.
  • Tough economic times during the period between 2004 and 2014 have had an impact on borrowers’ ability to repay student debt. Each year between 2004 and 2008, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was below 6 percent. But since the end of a recession in 2009, each year that unemployment rate has been greater than 7 percent. Unemployment for young college graduates in 2014 was 7.2 percent.
  • The report notes that, while its focus is on the debt of students who recently graduated from college, “the borrowers who struggle most to repay their loans are those who do not graduate.” Also, “completers are more likely than noncompleters to be paying down their debt.”

As the report points out, federal student loans make college possible for many students. But rising debt levels can have a negative impact on students’ futures. The following are some of the policy recommendations from “Student Debt and the Class of 2014” — and my thoughts on how you can help make these recommendations a reality at your school:

Reduce the need to borrow — Find ways to incorporate information about students’ many options for financial aid before they begin school and throughout their time at your institution. From new-student orientation to required and supplemental loan counseling, include messages about reduced reliance on borrowing.

Help keep loan payments manageable — Make sure your student loan counseling sessions include information about all of the flexible federal student loan repayment options — including the Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) repayment option.

Help students and families make informed choices — Provide financial literacy and student success training to students throughout their academic career and beyond.

Reduce private loan borrowing — For students who must borrow to cover the cost of their education, encourage them to pursue federal loans before considering private loans — which typically are costlier and offer fewer consumer protections.

If you need assistance with default prevention planning, visit