Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nominations due THIS FRIDAY, January 29!

The Nominations and Elections Committee would like to remind fellow MASFAA members that nominations for the 2016-17 election cycle are due this Friday, January 29.  Nomination forms can be found on the MASFAA website.  The committee is currently seeking nominees for President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer-Elect and two Delegates-At-Large positions.  Members are reminded that while they can nominate others for a position, self-nominations are also welcome.  Questions regarding the nomination process and the upcoming election can be directed to Aaron Steffens, Nominations and Elections Chair at  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Leadership Spotlight - Krissy Bhaumik

Name, Job Title, School, State, MASFAA Position, Description of your position
Krissy Bhaumik, Assistant Director for Special Programs in the Office of Financial Aid
University of Michigan Office of Financial Aid
State Representative, Michigan – As the state president (elect) for MSFAA (Michigan Student Financial Aid Association), I represent Michigan on the MASFAA board.  State presidents support MASFAA by sharing information between the state and regional associations, to the benefit of both.

How did you get started in financial aid?
As a poor student in London, England, I was looking for work anywhere I could find it to help pay the bills.  I ended up working for the Director of Financial Aid at my small international college.  I spent a year working part time there and ended up as acting aid director (while still a student!) when my boss took a leave of absence during the summer.  I then spent a few years in Montreal studying Literature and attempting to stay as far away from financial aid as possible.  To no one’s surprise but my own, I was unsuccessful in obtaining work with my Literature degrees when I moved back to the US in 2005.  Since my soon-to-be husband did not yet have permission to work in the US, I began looking for employment where I had the greatest experience.  Fortunately, the University of Michigan Office of Financial Aid took me in and gave me a home.  I have never left!

How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?
Some incredible mentors were responsible for getting me involved in these associations and keeping me engaged.  Sometimes they encouraged me to volunteer with the associations, sometimes they “volun-told” me how I could be involved, but in all cases they inspired me to embrace these professional associations as vehicles for professional and personal development.  Leadership trainings, new aid professional trainings and conference presentations were activities that I enjoyed the most, early in my involvement.  Meeting people through those events ultimately resulted in my being asked to participate on Michigan’s executive board.  My participation on that board and my election to president of MSFAA has led to my position on the MASFAA board.

Why were you interested in a MASFAA leadership role?
I am deeply appreciative to Michigan’s financial aid community for electing me to be their president and through that position I hope to represent the state well on MASFAA’s board.  I enjoy pulling back the figurative curtain to see how business gets done and am looking forward to participating in the association leadership process with MASFAA.  I have to admit, though, I’m still a little star-struck.  I look around the MASFAA board table and see financial aid rock stars.  More than anything else, I’m interested to learn from them in this leadership role.

What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid?
Embrace every opportunity to be involved.  Whether it is small, like writing a blog post, or big like volunteering to chair a committee, I encourage all new aid officers to say “yes” to at least one opportunity in their state or in MASFAA to volunteer this year.  And next year, I encourage them to say yes to one more.   Those of us who have said yes, have rarely regretted it and have always learned from it.

What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the aid office?
I have a three-year-old daughter so at this point in my life I enjoy sleep…preferably when I am outside the aid office.  I also teach a course on student financial savvy at the University of Michigan and I love my time in the classroom with the students.  At less chaotic times in my life, I have enjoyed travel (I’ve called 4 countries “home”), good books (my degrees are in literature), good food (eating, not cooking) and good friends (I friends living in over a dozen countries worldwide). 

Final thoughts?
“Behind every success is effort… Behind every effort is passion… Behind every passion is someone with the courage to try.”  - unknown (emphasis mine)

January in Minnesota

Submitted by: Gayle Yamry, MAFAA President Elect

January in Minnesota, high temp is the low 20’s and low temperatures in single digits with record lows reaching in the negative 20 degree marks. Fortunately thus far winter has been warming than the average so it’s a great time to come and visit our winter wonderland.

Things are busy moving and shaking it up here in Minnesota. This past October we hosted our 4th annual fall training day. We had a jam packed training day with 13 different training sessions that 260 members participated. Big Thank you to Kimberly Wells (Federal Trainer), and our many other volunteer presenters and business partners for making the day a success.

I also had the privilege to attend the Missouri State Conference at Lake of the Ozarks in November through the State President Exchange sponsored by MASFAA. Thanks again to MASFAA, MASFAP and everyone in Missouri for being so kind and generous with their time making me feel welcome. I learned a lot and returned with some great ideas for future conference and trainings in Minnesota.

Here in Minnesota we just completed our elections for new members to the 2016-2017 executive counsel.  We congratulate and thank them for their commitment to MAFAA.

President-Elect:                Shannon O’Brien, Minneapolis Community Technical College
Vice President:                  Bridget Johnson, Anoka Ramsey Community College
Secretary:                            Thomas Lorendo, Saint Paul College
Treasurer-Elect:                Gary Forst, Anoka Ramsey Community College

The MAFAA Professional Development committee has been busy and has slated upcoming trainings for every level of professional working with students and financial aid administration. More information can be found on our website at . All trainings are free as a part of MAFAA membership.

January 26, 2016              Financial Aid 101 for financial aid professionals with less than 5 years of experience.

February 23, 2016            Financial Aid 201 for supervisors, managers, directors and senior staff who aspire to be effective leaders.

March 8, 2016                    Student Employment Workshop, for professionals to network with each other and learn the best practices for work study administration and student development and supervision.

April 5th, 2016                     Financial Aid for Non-Financial Aid Professionals, FA basics, tips and tricks for all individuals outside the financial aid office that work with students. Enrollment counselors, Business office staff, High School Guidance counselors, etc. are welcome to attend.

Another upcoming event to look forward to is our annual MAFAA Spring Training Conference which will be held May 4-6, 2016 At Maddens Resort, Brainerd Minnesota.  More info to come as the agenda takes shape and our conference planning committee pulls together another great conference.

I am also looking forward to attending the NASFAA Leadership & legislative Conference February 22-24, 2016. As President elect I will be attending the Association Management Pathway Sessions and Capitol Hill visit. My goal is to get a jump start to planning the 2016-2017 and to create some lasting professional relationships with others who have a passion for administering financial aid assistance and helping student meet their education goals.  

Monday, January 18, 2016


Noun | di·ver·si·ty | \də-ˈvər-sə-tē, dī-\

– the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc. and/or the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.

Today, when you type the diversity in a search engine, several items pop up such as the definition of diversity, a Wikipedia entry, the 2016 Oscars, a few articles and what I thought was most interesting, yet I am not surprised by it, was Mizzou; the University of Missouri diversity webpage.  The University of Missouri was a headliner this past Fall 2015 semester, for several reasons, I am sure we are all aware of.  While there may be several differences of opinions regarding the state of affairs at Mizzou or what happened last fall such as the protest, what I personally think is the most amazing outcome of it all (as an employee at Mizzou), is that We. Are. Finally. Talking. About. Race. Openly.

Yes, race is one thing to discuss, but there is so much more to discuss as well.

A challenge for 2016, MASFAA, is how do we view diversity, what does it mean to us in our professions, and in our organization at large?  The Diversity committee is eager to explore this topic further this year, and your input would be invaluable!  There is more information to come soon regarding getting your feedback, so please stay tuned!

Written by CortneyJo Sandidge, University of Missouri

MASFAA Representation on the NASFAA Board

In the January 12th edition of NASFAA’s Today’s News, NASFAA members were encouraged to reach out to their Board of Directors to share comments or submit questions pertaining to any of NASFAA’s products or services.  MASFAA members have several options to reach out to a NASFAA board member from the MASFAA region as MASFAA is very well represented on the board.  Current NASFAA board members from MASFAA include National Chair Dan Mann (IL), Paula Luff (IL), Craig Slaughter (IN), Angela Johnson (OH), Nick Prewett (MO), Aaron Steffens (IA), and Keith Williams (MI).  Additionally, Sue Swisher (IL) is a board observer this year. 

If you have a question or concern, any of us welcome your feedback.  The board as a whole does review and discuss items brought to us from fellow members.  Our next board meeting is at the end of February, so you do have some time to provide commentary or ask your questions of a board member.  If you have something to say, we want to hear from you!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting Campus Buy-In for Your Financial Wellness Program

Submitted by Michiale Schneider, Trainer, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village”, right? When it comes to campus programming it’s no different. Having campus “buy-in” from your upper administration can make your job of pulling off a new program—such as a financial wellness initiative—much easier than going it alone.

There are numerous benefits to getting buy-in.  By taking the steps to cultivate support you could gain an increase in resources. With  more people interested in your project you could find yourself with  a lighter workload! Buy-in also gets everyone on the same page, as a team  you’re sending the same message, “this is important”. Having the upper administration’s support could also mean having faculty on board—and that may get you into classrooms as a guest speaker.

So how can you get people to hop on board with that great idea you have?

1.       Start by building a base of support. Use facts to help people understand the importance of what you’re trying to do.  Take the time to have one-on-one conversations with people, too. It’s time-consuming but it will give you an opportunity to “lobby” your position.  Keep it simple—you don’t have to go into all of the details right away.

2.       Anticipate objections—and be prepared to respond. This seems obvious, but you can never prepare enough. You want to be sure you acknowledge & listen to everyone’s viewpoint so you can address each one. For example– someone might have an objection about the amount of time and number of staff you’ll need to develop and implement your program—or how you will get students to attend. Be prepared to discuss those factors to alleviate their concerns.

3.       Highlight the value of your program. Your program will have benefits for your students, but it will also have benefits for your institution. Communicate the positive outcomes you anticipate. Share success stories from other schools with similar initiatives. Show your institution the “what’s in it for them”. Connect the project to your office’s (or institution’s) mission statement or annual goals. For example, if you’re proposing a financial wellness initiative, the institutional benefits could be a lower cohort default rate, higher retention rate, higher institutional receivables and alumni contributions…just to name a few!

In summary, find ways to make your initiative about “we versus me”. Through your financial wellness program your students will leave school with a lower debt burden, better credit scores, better rates on loans and credit cards and the ability to give back as alums. It’s a win win all around!

So don’t be afraid to try new initiatives! 

Leadership Spotlight: Keith Williams

Keith Williams, Associate Director, Michigan State University, Former MASFAA Vice-President and current Commission Director for NASFAA.

How did you get started in financial aid?
I started my financial aid career as a work-study student during my sophomore year (September 1990) at Michigan State University (MSU).  My initial responsibilities included filing Student Aid Reports, typing receipts for scholarship checks and transporting departmental mail across campus.  Over the three-year period as a student employee I was gradually given more responsibility such as answering student phone calls and making direct updates in our financial aid module. 
Upon my undergraduate graduation, I applied for an open Financial Aid Officer I position at MSU.  I was offered the full-time employment opportunity and gladly accepted.  Over 20 years later, I am still happily employed the MSU Office of Financial Aid.
How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?  I first became involved in MSFAA and MASFAA by simply going to the annual conferences.  I learned a great deal about the financial aid rules and regulations from attending these conferences.  I also had the opportunity to meet and network with some very experienced financial aid professionals from Michigan and all across the MASFAA region. 
The support and encouragement of the management team at MSU made it every easy for me to become involved in various financial aid associations.  The current FA Director at MSU, Rick Shipman, continues to be fully supportive of staff involvement at the state, regional and national level.
Why were you interested in a MASFAA leadership role? MASFAA is a great organization.  One of my career goals was to serve as an important member of an organization that is such a strong advocate for student financial aid.  I really felt that I could help MASFAA achieve some of its goals and objectives if I was able to serve in a leadership capacity.  I must admit that I was initially hesitant to run for an elected position.  After sitting on a couple of committees and serving as a committee chair, I felt much more confident striving to become one of MASFAA’s elected leaders.
What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid? I would encourage any new financial aid professional to attend a state or regional conference.   In addition to learning valuable information related to financial aid, you will get a chance to meet many other seasoned financial aid professionals from the state and the region.  Seek out a positive mentor (or two) within the profession.  A good mentor can certainly give you the necessary advice and guidance to have a long and successful career in our great profession. 
I have been blessed to have some really great mentors/ role models in our great profession.  I will not name them individually, but they know who they are.   For those wonderful mentors, I say “Thank You” for all you have done over the years!
What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA?   I would recommend to anyone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA to do some research and find out what the association is all about.  Check out MASFAA’s great website ( ).   See if MASFAA’s long-term goals are in alignment with your own goals and objectives.  I would also suggest you speak with other active members of the association to obtain their perspective.  I am pretty certain that anyone who chooses to get involved in MASFAA will find it to be a worthwhile experience.  However, it is important that you gather as much information as possible before proceeding.
What are you looking forward to learning during your leadership term?   While a member of MASFAA’s Executive Council, my goal was to gain a better understanding as to how some of the rules and regulations regarding financial aid are established.  MASFAA has an excellent working relationship with both our national financial aid association and Federal Student Aid.  Being a part of such a wonderful organization such as MASFAA allows one to work much closer with the actual decision and policy makers.  This is an opportunity that many financial aid professionals will never get.
What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the aid office?   One of the great benefits about our profession is that it allows you to have both a wonderful work life and an even better non-work life.  When I am not working, I spend the overwhelming majority of my time with family.  I have been happily married for 19 years (Tara) and have two great sons (Kevin and Brian).  If we are not attending a sporting event for one the boys, we spend a great deal of family time bowling or going to the movie theatre.
Any final thoughts?

When I first accepted the work-study job over 25 years ago, I had no idea it would turn into a great career opportunity for me.  I realize that being a part of such a wonderful profession is both and honor and a privilege. Over the years, I have met life-long friends (also in the financial aid profession) from all over the country.  I have also had the honor to sit and discuss financial aid issues with various members of the United States Congress. 

The absolute best part of my job is helping to remove the financial barriers for our neediest students.  Without financial aid, there is no way I could have made it through college.  Seeing an incoming freshmen reach the ultimate goal of graduation is the ultimate satisfaction for me.  I look forward to a day when affordability is no longer an issue in higher education.  Getting involved (and staying involved) ensures that you have a voice in the future of financial aid.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Putting ‘Big Data’ to Work to Prevent Student Loan Default
Submitted by: Angela Henry, USA Funds Account Executive

Which borrowers at your school are most likely to default on their student loans?

It’s a question you need to be able to answer to most effectively prevent those defaults. And there’s only one way to know the answer:

Analyze the data.

The importance of ‘big data’
Being proactive in your default prevention means not only helping borrowers who are in trouble to get back on track, but also keeping borrowers whose loans are in good standing from falling behind in the first place.

Seems like a daunting — and expensive — task. And it can be, if you take the blanket approach traditionally employed by schools working to lower their cohort default rates.

But the better approach is to work smarter, not harder.

Determine the characteristics of your institution’s borrowers who are most likely to default, and then take a targeted approach to default prevention.

To find those characteristics, you have to go beyond making assumptions. That’s because there’s no set rule for who most frequently defaults. The attributes of defaulters at one school are not necessarily the same as those at another.

You have to analyze the data for your own borrowers.

Then you can target your default prevention, allocating the most support to those who are likely to need the most help. This approach allows you to make the best use of your resources.

What data can you study to determine which borrowers are at greatest risk of defaulting? Here are some examples:

·         Standardized test scores.
·         Student application details.
·         Contact or interaction history.
·         GPA.
·         Full- or part-time or online enrollment status.
·         Major.
·         Employment status.
·         Involvement in on-campus activities
·         Student loan and grant information.
·         Alumni engagement.

Putting ‘big data’ to work
Institutional data, servicer files, and the National Student Loan Data System all are good sources of borrower information that can help you find out who’s most at risk of defaulting at your school.

You can turn that data into actionable insights that guide your targeted borrower outreach plan. USA Funds’ cohort analysis approach is to categorize your portfolio of borrowers into three levels of default risk: low, moderate and high. And that default risk, along with a borrower’s repayment status and your school’s default prevention budget, should dictate how you implement your borrower outreach strategies.

If you need assistance with default prevention planning, visit

Kansas City, Here We Come…

The contract has been signed and MASFAA will be heading to Kansas City for the 2016 Annual Conference in October.  So if its great BBQ and Jazz you want, you won’t want to miss MASFAA in Kansas City, Missouri, October 2-5, 2016! Mark your calendars now!

The famous song “Kansas City” promises a good time at the corner of 12th Street and Vine. But don’t take it too literally; there is no such place. Not anymore. But you can pose for photos under the commemorative sign that marks the historic intersection at the renovated park that has been there since 2005. You can, however, find a jazz museum, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and more at 18th and Vine!

The most iconic piece of public art in Kansas City might well be “The Scout,” a Sioux on horseback that has looked out over downtown since 1922. A 2008 Star Magazine cover story, “If Statues Could Talk,” asked readers what the Indian or its steed might say if given the chance. One reader suggested the following: “Tonto, I don’t believe we’re in Kansas anymore.”

Given that Walt Disney grew up partly in Kansas City (and found inspiration in a local mouse), you’d think Disneyland would have opened here. No. But in 1973, KC finally got its own theme park, Worlds of Fun.

Union Station draws tourists from all over the world who marvel at her Grand Hall's 95-foot ceiling, three 3,500-pound chandeliers and the six-foot wide clock hanging in her central arch. Just as you could 100 years ago, you can still catch the train at Union Station's AMTRAK STOP and head out across the country. You'll also find a permanent rail exhibit called the KC RAIL EXPERIENCE, exhibit spaces for traveling exhibits produced by the Smithsonian, National Geographic and other international organizations, a PLANETARIUM, an interactive science center SCIENCE CITY and a vibrant Theater District featuring GIANT-SCREEN MOVIES, LIVE THEATER, and so much more.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's famous “Shuttlecocks.”  The museum is intended to be the net in the oversized game of badminton. That’s why there are three shuttlecocks on the south lawn and one on the north lawn. One sailed over the net!

Kansas City is a diverse city, not only with its culture, but also in its skyscrapers. Like most other large U.S. cities, it has an eclectic mixture of old and new structures. Many buildings incorporate art deco details in a number of ways, as exhibited by the Kansas City Power and Light Building, Municipal Auditorium, and the Bartle Hall Pylons.

The Kansas City Power & Light District is a premier dining, entertainment and shopping district in the heart of downtown Kansas City.

The Kansas City Marriott Downtown connects travelers and visitors to the heart of KC’s entertainment district. The KC Convention Center is attached to the hotel via an enclosed walkway. The nearby Power & Light District offers shopping, great restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife. 

Burnt ends — barbecue gold — are cut from the pointed end of a brisket and then barbecued to their charry best. (Or cut after cooking. Chef’s choice.) Fattier than the rest of the cut, they are commonly found inside sandwiches, baked beans, and grill masters named Bubba.

Kansas City is the City of Fountains. And every April, the fountains get turned on, on Fountain Day. The city is second to only Rome in the number of fountains.

The east side of Missouri has Anheuser-Busch, but this side has Boulevard Brewing Co., which is still locally owned. Boulevard was founded by John McDonald in 1989. Boulevard is the country’s 10th largest craft brewer. Biggest seller: Unfiltered Wheat.

The Jacksons’ (yes, those Jacksons) Victory Tour launched right here in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium in 1984. It was the last concert tour featuring all of the Jackson brothers together, including Michael. Tickets were $30 each, an unheard-of sum at the time. Fans went crazy for the moonwalk, songs from “Thriller” and the other brothers, too, presumably.

So come see all this in Kansas City, and attend an exiting, informative and fun-filled conference with colleagues from the nine-state MASFAA region.  More information will be forthcoming!