Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Volunteer for 2015-2016 - Today!

Good afternoon, SASFAA!

Believe it or not, summer is only a few days away!  On that note, it is even harder to believe we only have a few more weeks left in 2014-2015.  I look forward to working with next year's Executive Board to lead this association together during 2015-2016.  However, we can't do that without each and every one of you!  It is time for each of you to help SASFAA Make An Impact, and volunteer to serve YOUR regional association during 2015-2016. 

Please take a look at the volunteer options for next year on the SASFAA volunteer form and submit your form this week.  The 2014-2015 & 2015-2016 SASFAA Executive Boards will be meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida starting Sunday, June 7th to hold our last board meeting of 1415 and then transition with the incoming 1516 board.  I would like to have an up-to-date record of all volunteers.

Nathan Basford and this year's Executive Board have done an excellent job, and I look forward to continuing their momentum into next year. Let's work together to lead SASFAA and continue to "Make an Impact" for our students, our association, and our profession!
Have a great afternoon!

Amy Berrier

2014-2015 SASFAA President-Elect

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Update from President Basford

Dear SASFAA Members & Friends:

I want to share with you a brief update on last week’s travels of our Immediate Past President (Zita Barree), our President-Elect (Amy Berrier), and me as President.

It is very difficult, and impossible at times, for a SASFAA representative to be able to attend all of our nine states’ conferences.  This past week was a fine example of such when we held three state conferences that overlapped each other:  Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi.

I had planned to attend both the Georgia and Mississippi conferences, and Zita was scheduled to attend the Florida conference.  We know that change is something to which we daily adapt as financial aid professionals.  Due to FASFAA honoring me with the Distinguished Service Award, I felt that I should try and attend that Association’s meeting.  Before making the final decision, I received support from Zita and Amy letting me know that they would help in any way needed to ensure that each state conference was covered by someone to give the SASFAA update as well as to present sessions.

I would like to extend my appreciation to Zita and Amy for the support, dedication, and commitment to SASFAA.

Hearing about how many of you came together to attend the conferences last week makes me proud to be in this profession:  a profession that positively changes lives every day.

Below are my comments about each conference and its theme from last week.

FASFAA Conference
St. Augustine, Florida / May 19-22, 2015
Honoring the Past, Shaping the Present, and Treasuring the Future

As members of our associations, we must make sure that we honor our past and are grateful to those who worked with commitment and dedication to create each of our associations.  They may have not done everything right, but, in most cases, their hearts were in the right places—just like our hearts and minds today.  By shaping the present, we create, we improve, we influence in a formative way. We do this by thinking outside-the-box and look at new ways for our association to move forward.  We must continue to treasure the future. Cherish it, and hold it dearly.  As members of our associations, we must strive to keep the history while we cherish the present, and ensure the future is filled with many treasures for those after us to build on and share.

Georgia Conference
Peachtree City, Georgia / May 20-22, 2015
Lights, Camera, Action, GASFAA!

Sounds like we are making a movie, and, in many ways, we are.  We deal with students and their families, daily, on issues and the concerns that they present to us:  How can we afford to send our child to your institution? Where do I get the money? Are there scholarships available?  We pull out our script:  the state and federal guidelines, institutional policy and procedure manuals, our methodology of awarding financial aid, and begin to look for the right scene that will solve this chapter so that the students and families can complete their movie by achieving their educational goals.  Each of us must continue to be a part of the action that allows our students to achieve their educational goals, and then hold to that action ‘til the goal is reached.

Mississippi Conference
Biloxi, Mississippi / May 19-22, 2015
Turning the Tide!

When you hear the word tide, what is your first thought?  I think of the beach. As the tide comes in, it washes away our foot prints or the sandcastles we have built or the names of our special loved ones written in the sand.  As the tide goes back out, we rebuild our sandcastles. We make our footprints in the sand again, and we write our loved ones’ names in the sand once more—proving that things are good again.  Can’t we relate to this image in our workplaces?  Yes, we see students rush in at high tide—wanting questions answered, documents reviewed, and funds disbursed. In getting these requests completed, we sometimes encounter waves that will cause us to have to go out and seek additional information in order to complete the student’s high tide request, but we do. We find the answers. We explain what needs to be done, and then we see the tide begin to go back out—all is calm.  I encourage each of us to continue to be a part of Turning the Tide.  You may ask yourself how it can be done.  We help turn the tide by riding the waves that we may encounter—those waves being the students and families who seek information to achieve their educational dreams. We can provide correct and valuable information on what financial aid is available while ensuring the process is completed and that the students achieve their educational dreams.

Final Comments
As you can see, I may not have been at your specific conference in person, but I was there in spirit and in full support!  I appreciate all that each of you do for your state as well as for SASFAA.  

Because of each of you, we continue to Uncover our Purpose, Power, and Passion.

SASFAA President, 2014-2015


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NAOW - Information Packed Training Sessions - Register today!

Join Dave Bartnicki (U.S. DOE) and the rest of the magical cast at the SASFAA Summer New Aid Officer Workshop
(NAOW).  This will be an information packed week filled with Financial Aid from A – Z.  The topics will include:
  • ·         The Application Process
  • ·         Student Eligibility
  • ·         Federal Methodology
  • ·         Overview of All Federal Aid Programs
  • ·         Cost of Attendance
  • ·         Verification
  • ·         Packaging
  • ·         Professional Judgment
  • ·         Cash Management Rules
  • ·         Satisfactory Academic Progress

Register now (http://www.sasfaa.org/naow/registration) to reserve your seat.   We look forward to seeing you there!

Marian Dill
2014-2015 SASFAA Vice President

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Can’s and Can’ts of Loan Counseling Guidance

Submitted by: Shannon Cross, USA Funds Account Executive

The U.S. Department of Education recently issued Dear Colleague Letter GEN-15-06 about loan counseling requirements and flexibilities. What does the letter explain that you can do — and can’t do?

You can …
·         Require first-year, first-time borrowers to complete entrance counseling via studentloans.gov, or through your own means, provided you include all required information, at a minimum.

You can’t …
·         Require subsequent counseling as a condition of receiving a subsequent Direct Loan disbursement.

You can …
·         Provide additional information as part of the required entrance counseling process. You need to be reasonable regarding the amount and scope of the information.

You can’t …
·         Require students to use the Department’s Financial Awareness Counseling Tool (FACT).
·         Impede a student’s access to Direct Loan funds through overly burdensome additional counseling requirements.

You can …
·         Require that the student complete a test regarding the material presented during the required entrance loan counseling. You also may provide feedback on any incorrect responses.

You can’t …
·         Require a passing score on the test as a condition of receiving a Direct Loan disbursement.

You can …
·         Require students to complete worksheets or exercises — such as those focusing on budgets or estimated earnings — as part of the entrance counseling process.

You can’t …
·         Require the student to justify the need for a loan.

You can …
·         Require students to attend workshops or loan orientation presentations.

You can’t …
·         Prevent the student from receiving loan funds in a timely manner.

You can …
·         Encourage returning or transfer students to review loan balances and loan counseling information.

You can’t …
·         Require subsequent counseling for a student who already received the required entrance counseling, even at another institution. You must assume the student completed entrance counseling if the student received a Direct Loan from another school.

You can …
·         Offer financial literacy courses, either for credit or non-credit.

You can’t …
·         Require the completion of such courses as a condition for receiving a Direct Loan disbursement.

You can …
·         Require students on financial aid warning or financial aid probation (for satisfactory academic progress) to meet certain academic requirements to continue to receive Title IV aid.

You can’t …
·         Require students on financial aid warning or financial aid probation (for satisfactory academic progress) to complete additional loan counseling beyond the requirements for first-time borrowers as a condition for receiving a Direct Loan disbursement.

You can …
·         Incorporate in your default prevention plans voluntary provisions for additional counseling beyond the required entrance counseling for first-year, first-time borrowers.

You can’t …
·         State or imply that this supplemental counseling is required as a condition for a student to receive a loan.

You can …
·         Customize for certain groups of students the initial entrance counseling requirements to include the information or activities allowed by the flexibilities in GEN-15-06.

You can’t …
·         Require subsequent counseling for certain groups of students, just as you cannot require subsequent counseling as a general practice for all students.

For additional resources on loan counseling and successful student loan repayment, visit www.usafunds.org.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Financial Aid is Magical at NAOW!

The SASFAA NAOW is just around the corner – June 14 – 19, 2015 and will be held at Thomas More College in Kentucky.  

Slots are filling-up quickly and are limited.  Be sure to register by May 30 to receive the rate of $675.  This year’s theme is: Financial Aid is Magical.  The trainers and staff are busy at work to ensure this will be an amazing fact and fun-filled learning opportunity.  I can’t wait to see you there.

To register and for more information go to: http://www.sasfaa.org/naow/registration.

SASFAA 2014-2015 Vice President

Thursday, May 7, 2015

2015 HBCU ALL-STAR Student Program

On behalf of SASFAA's Global Issues Committee, please see the announcement about 2015 HBCU ALL-STAR Student Program.

Application:  http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/whhbcu/files/2015/05/2015-HBCU-All-Star-Application-Form.pdf

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) works to promote HBCU excellence, innovation, and sustainability. The Initiative recognizes undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in scholarship, leadership, and civic engagement Do not underestimate the impact you make at your HBCU. Nominate yourself as an HBCU ALL-STAR!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

FAB Financial Awareness Basics

To view this email as a web page, go here.
Three ideas to improve your financial life
Simple things for students and everyone to do this month
 Request a copy of your consumer credit report and review it 
Amount of time to complete: 
15-30 minutes
How: Go to www.annualcreditreport.com 
— Click "Request yours now!"
— Click "Request your credit reports"
— Fill out the form
Note: As a safeguard to your personal information, you'll be asked questions only you would know the answers to.
Why it matters: The information in your reports may affect your mortgage rates, credit tcard approvals, apartment requests or your job application. In addition, reviewing the information may help you detect identity theft.

 Keep track of the due dates of all bills. Always pay on time. 
Amount of time to complete: 
15-20 minutes monthly
How: Set up a bill tracking system that works for you. It could be a calendar, an app, a spreadsheet or a simple piece of paper with the due dates and amounts indicated for each bill.
Why it matters: Paying bills on time means you'll avoid late fees. An added bonus is that your track record for paying on time is one piece in maintaining a good credit score. 

 Celebrate completing ideas 1 and 2 by doing something free. It's spring! 
Take a walk, sit in the park, or listen to music, and imagine the day when you have control of your financial life. It's possible by taking small, manageable steps one at a time.
Amount of time to complete: 5-30 minutes
How: Start by imagining the freedom in deciding that happiness doesn't need to cost money.
Why it matters: Small, impactful steps-like finding free things to do-can lead to a more empowered, debt-free life.

 Oprah may have her favorite things, but the Outreach and Financial Literacy team has found some fab stuff to share with you! Here are some of our most recent picks: 
  • In preparation for National Financial Literacy Month, iGrad visited college campuses to test the financial literacy of today's students. You may find the results surprising.
  • Spring is the perfect time to tackle financial clutter. From refreshing budgets to going paperless to cleaning up your credit score, here are seven tips that make it easy to do a financial clean sweep this spring.
  • How to rebuild your finances after draining your emergency fund
  • Manilla—This free app allows you to pay, track and store records of all of your bills, financial accounts and household accounts in one place. You can also customize the app to send alerts for outstanding bills that are coming due.

When do I start repaying my federal student loans?
You don't have to begin repaying most federal student loans until after you leave college or drop below half-time enrollment. Many federal student loans have a grace period, which gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan.
You will make your federal student loan payments to your loan servicer. They will provide you with a loan repayment schedule showing when your first payment is due, the number and frequency of payments, and the amount of each payment. Your servicer will work with you to choose a repayment plan and answer questions you have about your federal student loans. It's important to stay in contact with your loan servicer and keep them informed of any changes to your mailing address, email or phone number so they know how to contact you.
How much will I have to pay?
You can use the repayment estimator to gauge your monthly payments under different repayment plans to determine the option that fits your financial circumstances. Just remember, if you would like to switch repayment plans, you must contact your loan servicer.
What if I'm having trouble making my student loan payments?
Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible. You may be able to change your repayment plan to one with a longer repayment period or to one that is partially based on your income. If switching repayment plans isn't an option for you, ask your loan servicer about your options for loan consolidation, a deferment or forbearance.
Webinars and money tips in honor of National Financial Literacy Month
What a perfect opportunity to learn money management skills! This month the Outreach and Financial Literacy team presents the free, five-part webinar series: "Five Easy Pieces: Earn, Spend, Save, Protect and Borrow." Each installment is 30 minutes and is designed to provide financial aid counselors with information that they can share with their students. Clickhere to find out more about the series and reserve your (virtual) front row seat.
We'll also be sharing important money management tips on social media. Like our Financial Awareness Basics Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.
Start a discussion using the hashtag #FLM2015.
Looking ahead: Budget is not a four-letter word
It's pretty difficult to manage a budget when your expenses exceed your income. In the next issue of FAB Gab, we'll share a simple strategy to track spending and set up a realistic money management plan that even the most math-challenged person can handle.