Thursday, July 30, 2015

U. S. House of Representatives Bills Reintroduced

SASFAA Legislative Relations Highlights

U. S. House of Representatives Bills Reintroduced

The Simplify the Application for Student Aid Act (HR 3177)

  • Amends the need analysis section to require the use of prior, prior year for family income.
  • Requires sharing FAFSA income data collected by the IRS for the online form.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (HR 3178)

  • Replaces the USDE College Navigator with a new College Dashboard for full-time undergraduate students.
  • Eliminates current college affordability and transparency lists, the state higher education spending chart and several other required reporting elements.

The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (HR 3179)

  • Promotes financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all federal financial aid recipients.
  • Requires annual in-person or online entrance counseling for loans.
  • Creates new Pell Grant counseling provisions.

The Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act (HR 3180)

  • Expands flexibility to use Pell Grants year round.
  • Maintains the lifetime Pell Grant award.
  • Removes previous complexity.

Submitted by:  Ron Gambill, Chair, SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee

Friday, July 17, 2015

SASFAA Management Institute - Details

SASFAA Management Institute
October 7-9, 2015

Mark your calendars for the SASFAA Management Institute!

The event is geared towards senior-level financial aid administrators, generally defined as someone at a director, associate director, coordinator, or other senior leadership level in the financial aid office. You must be a SASFAA member to attend.

This workshop is not your traditional “conference.”  The days are designed to provide facilitated group work following each of the presentations.  This is an opportunity for each attendee to work in a group, discuss the presented materials, and develop a list of takeaways and/or action items that can be used at your institution.  In other words, the sessions are designed to be “hands on” and interactive.  You will learn from your peers as well as the presenters, which makes this a wonderful opportunity to find out what works at other institutions and brainstorm new strategies.  Due to this structure, we are limiting the event to 50 attendees (subject to change).

Embassy Suites Orlando - Lake Buena Vista Resort with a room rate of $139/night.  The rates will also be offered 2 days pre/post the event based on availability.  Hotel registration is scheduled to open August 1st.

Registration:  $300.  Registration is scheduled to open August 1st.  Keep in mind you must also be a paid SASFAA member to attend.


  • October 7 - 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.   Dinner on your own
  • October 8 - 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.   Breakfast for hotel guests, Lunch provided, Dinner on your own
  • October 9 - 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Breakfast for hotel guests
David Bartinicki, Federal Training Office, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Federal Student aid
Justin Draeger, NASFAA President & CEO
Brent Tener, Financial Aid Director for Vanderbilt University
Dr. Bryan Terry, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, UNC Greensboro
More to come!

Tentative Agenda:
Check out the quality speakers and sessions by downloading the agenda at the Training section of the SASFAA website at www.sasfaa.org.

Committee Members:
·         Brad Barnett, James Madison University (barnetbd@jmu.edu
·         Zita Barree, Hampden-Sydney College (zbarree@hsc.edu)
·         Heather Boutell, Bellarmine University (hboutell@bellarmine.edu)        
·         Michael Morgan, Rhodes College (morganm@rhodes.edu)
·         Brent Tener, Vanderbilt University (b.tener@vanderbilt.edu)
·         Tracy Misner, Cape Coral Tech (Site Coordinator)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

First 2015-2016 Board Meeting

Good evening.
The Executive Board of SASFAA (Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) will be meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina on Friday, July 24th, through Sunday, July 26th—the first board meeting of 2015-2016.  The SASFAA Conference Committee will also be meeting in Greensboro starting Saturday, July 25th, through Monday, July 27th.
The following items will be discussed.
  • Approval of the 2015-2016 SASFAA Budget
  • Approval of 2015-2016 Committee Members
  • Approval of additional discretionary committees/board liaisons/task forces
  • NASFAA Gold Star Award
  • Tenure of the Vice-President Position
  • Definition of what is considered to be inclusive/new/returning as it pertains to committee chairs, officers, and committee members
  • Pre-conference workshops
  • Update on the Summer New Aid Officers Workshop
  • Travel Guidelines
  • Reports will be provided from each of the 9 state presidents
  • Reports will be provided from each SASFAA Officer
  • Reports will be provided from each SASFAA Committee Chair
  • SASFAA Management Institute
  • SASFAA 2016 Annual Conference
  • November board meeting will not be held face-to-face
  • Sponsorship levels
If you have any questions or concerns that you would like to be brought to the Executive Board for discussion, please e-mail me no later than Wednesday, July 22, 2015. 
Our board members have already been hard at work for the membership to get things off the ground and running this year.  I look forward to reporting on the progress and decisions of the Board at the conclusion of the meeting.
I hope everyone is surviving the heat wave, severe weather, and the rush of preparations for the upcoming fall semester.  Thank you for making an impact for our students, families, institutions, and SASFAA.
Have a great evening,

Amy Berrier
SASFAA President


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Membership Application/Renewal 2015-2016

Members make things happen! Join us in 2015-2016 by becoming a SASFAA member or by renewing your SASFAA membership. Visit http://www.sasfaa.org/memberservices.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gainful Employment and Default Prevention: 5 Ways to Tackle Them Together

Submitted by: Shannon Cross, USA Funds account executive

Gainful employment and student loan default prevention. Both topics are of keen interest to the post-secondary education community, and both can have a significant impact on institutions and their students.

But the similarities don’t end there.

In fact, many of the widely accepted best practices for lowering your school’s cohort default rate can help your school meet the standards for gainful employment program performance as well.

Encouraging students to focus on loan affordability — borrowing only what their expected salaries will reasonably allow them to repay — is important for preventing default. As it turns out, it’s also critical in addressing gainful employment requirements. Whether you’re working to prevent student loan default or making sure your gainful employment programs lead to positive outcomes for your students, the key to success is being proactive.

What is ‘gainful employment’ all about?

Let’s set the stage by reviewing the requirements for schools with gainful employment programs.
Generally speaking, to award Title IV funds to students, an eligible academic program must lead to a degree, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree. An exception in federal regulations allows colleges and universities to provide federal financial aid to students who aren’t enrolled in programs that lead to a degree, but instead prepare students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

Any post-secondary institution offering what are considered gainful employment-eligible programs must comply with all gainful employment requirements, including current reporting and public disclosure requirements.

Last fall, new regulations imposed several additional requirements, effective July 1, 2015, including accountability measures. There are negative consequences for failure to comply or meet specific accountability thresholds. And several years down the road, schools with gainful employment programs that don’t meet those standards could risk losing the ability to award federal financial aid to students enrolled in these failing programs.

Why focus on gainful employment now?
Gainful employment deadlines are quickly approaching for schools to report data on all Title IV students enrolled in those programs. The U.S. Department of Education will use this data to calculate two gainful employment debt measures, which it will issue as draft rates beginning in 2016:
·         Annual earnings rate.
·         Discretionary income rate.

These rates will gauge how much students in a particular gainful employment program are borrowing, and whether they’re earning enough after leaving the program to support the repayment of that debt.

As with cohort default rates, gainful employment debt measures will examine the status of a cohort of students who were enrolled several years ago. For example, most students enrolling in gainful employment programs for the 2015-2016 award year will appear for the first time in the draft 2018-2019 debt measure calculations.

Now is the time to encourage these students to borrow wisely — through counseling, advising and financial education — so that their loan payments compare favorably to their income levels after they complete their program of study. Students will benefit from these efforts, and your school will be able to continue to provide federal financial aid to future students enrolling in your gainful employment programs.

Default prevention and gainful employment

Borrowers whose loan payments are affordable are less likely to default. These borrowers also are less likely to adversely affect your school’s cohort default rate or the debt measures calculated for your gainful employment programs. Prepare yourself for both default prevention and gainful employment success with a proactive approach focused on these five components
  1. Start early. The best opportunity to make a difference with cohort default rates is long before the Department issues the draft rate for any given cohort. The idea is the same with gainful employment: You can’t afford to wait to address the borrowing and employment issues that are key to your students’ success — and critical to achieving satisfactory results in gainful employment-related rates for each group of students.
  2. Be consistent. Throughout students’ academic careers and beyond, find a variety of ways to emphasize the importance of limiting borrowing and being mindful of typical salaries in their chosen careers. Include lessons about managing money during school and beyond in loan counseling and in any supplemental information you share with your borrowers.
  3. Get everyone on board. Default prevention is everyone’s responsibility, and gainful employment is no different. The consequences of poor performance in default prevention and in gainful employment programs can be dire — not just for the students in select programs, but for your entire institution and, in turn, students in all academic areas. After all, your school’s reputation could be at stake.
  4. Reach out to career services. As you look to involve other areas of your institution in default prevention and gainful employment efforts, look to your career placement office. Staff there can help estimate starting salaries for relevant careers and help identify jobs that are a good fit for the training your program provides. When students have a realistic sense of how much they are likely to earn, they can make better decisions about borrowing. This information will help them manage their student loan debt.
  5. Target your efforts. This default prevention best practice is a helpful tactic to employ in gainful employment efforts now. And, if program-level cohort default rate regulations emerge in the future, it might become even more important. Pay attention now to estimated cohort default rates for your gainful employment programs. Analyze your borrower populations and look for common, at-risk characteristics. If you discover that students in certain programs are more likely to default, you can target your default prevention and gainful employment efforts to focus on these at-risk borrowers.

For additional information about tackling both default prevention and gainful employment requirements, visit www.usafunds.org.

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