You know when you’re telling a non-financial aid person a hilarious story about a student (complying with FERPA regulations, of course) and you realize about half-way through that they won’t think it’s funny? Or you come up with that perfect joke about the FAFSA that you ramble to your mom, and she does that pity chuckle because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings?
Welcome to my life.
The 2016 MASFAA Conference was my first financial aid conference ever. I was anxious and not sure what to expect. What if no one talks to me? What if I’m not familiar with some of the things in the sessions? During the hot topics speed-dating, my table had a great conversation about PJs and prior-prior year. We discussed how our offices were planning on handling the changes, and what we were expecting things to look like. All of my hilarious student stories were answered with even crazier scenarios from other institutions. It was wonderful to speak FA language all week and have every single person understand. It was awesome (and easy!) to meet new people and connect over this thing everyone in the room had in common: financial aid.
When I walked into my first interest session, I realized the conference is kind of like a family reunion. Except unlike that one weird family reunion you went to that one time with your first boyfriend/girlfriend, everyone here was friendly, welcoming, and they all want to talk to you! You can literally turn to the person sitting next to you at anytime and start a conversation. The people are what make financial aid so great, and at the MASFAA Conference, I met some marvelous awesome stunning fantastic amazing awe-inspiring people. Everyone here speaks the same language and we all have a passion to help students.
And don’t worry, the conference isn’t all work and no play. Going into the week, I didn’t think I would see my boss in shorts (or in a wig and a dress for that matter…), watch someone literally break their leg, meet Ted Malone (have you seen this guy dance?!), learn what an Irish car bomb is, and sing along to Nelly until midnight with some amazing financial aid administrators (including Ted, of course).
If you have never attended a MASFAA Conference, you gotta go! You will meet so many amazing people, make friends, find mentors, and learn a ton! If finances prevent you from attending, I would encourage you to apply for the MASFAA Conference Scholarship. This scholarship covers your full conference costs, and without this scholarship, I would not have been able to attend and take advantage of this amazing opportunity.
This post submitted by Keri Gilbert, Financial Aid Advisor at the University of Missouri.