Each February, WAFSAA sends the President-elect and Treasurer-elect to NASFAA’s Leadership & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. While NASFAA has held this event for a number of years, there are now three different tracks: New & Aspiring Aid Directors, Association Management, and Enrollment Management. To help prepare for the role that we are about to take on, Patty Taylor and I attended the Association Management track.
Before our trip, we participated in a couple of webinars to simply prepare for our Hill visits. These were held the last morning of the conference. During those webinars, we realized we needed to schedule our visits! Since we have the same congressman, we decided to try to visit the same legislators. We quickly secured a meeting with Congressman Glenn Grothman. The meeting with Senator Tammy Baldwin was a bit trickier—but her office really worked hard on fitting us into her busy schedule with our limited availability. Most attendees met with at least one legislative aid, so we felt pretty fortunate to meet with two of our elected representatives. Michelle Curtis from UW-Madison (and WASFAA’s new Federal Issues chair) was able to join us in our meeting with Senator Baldwin.
As we had heard from NASFAA leaders, both Baldwin and Grothman confirmed that Reauthorization was most likely not going to get done this year. However, they both felt there might be agreement on a few simplification items. These could include the application process (though not necessarily the two question post card) and the programs (one grant, one loan, one work). We did share how important the campus based programs were. We discussed administrative burden—and how it affects the amount of time available for counseling, etc. And of course PPY and the need to have formulas earlier in the new cycle. Both were pretty receptive to our suggestions. Senator Baldwin is a big supporter of Higher Education and recently introduced the “In the Red Act,” to address college affordability and debt-free college. Congressman Grothman is very worried about the nation’s debt, but does believe student loan borrowers should be able to refinance their debt. He is also a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
So, my ‘blog’ is getting a bit long—and I haven’t even shared what we did on the first two days! Justin Dreger provided a federal update as well as sessions on Work-Life Balance and The Art of Explanation. If you haven’t had a chance to hear Justin speak, he is pretty amazing. And he’s on the agenda to attend our Fall 2016 Conference in Milwaukee! We attended sessions on Board Governance, Running a Meeting, Fiscal Fitness, and Improving the Odds of Volunteerism. There was so much information shared with us!
And of course, we always try to find room for fun and networking. One evening we joined our MASFAA colleagues for dinner after a reception was held for all three tracks at the hotel. And, having only been to D.C. once before, I took the three hour tour the evening before the conference started. We were also able to visit with Kevin McShane and Katie Grieger, both from Herzing, who were there attending the Enrollment Management track.
So, while our four days in D.C. may not have been exciting enough to make a movie, Patty and I do sincerely appreciate WASFAA’s support in allowing us to attend what I feel was one of the best conferences I have ever attended.
Hope to see most of you next month at the Kalahari for WASFAA’s 50th Anniversary celebration!
Sue Minzlaff - WASFAA, President-elect