Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

As you prepare to settle down for what I trust will be a joyful Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends, I hope you will take a few minutes to catch your breath and think about all that we have to be thankful for.  Sure, we live in this “crazy” world of financial aid where the rules are always changing, students always need money, and there is never enough to go around. 

However, I’m thankful for the students who are helped by the money we have and the lives that all of us play a part in changing for the better.  Your job as a financial aid administrator is to help the dreams of our students become a reality, and because of the work you do countless students will have a better life in the long run.

This time of the year I am reminded of how thankful I am for my family and the loving support they give me each and every day.  I am also thankful to work in a profession with so many people who sacrifice of themselves to help make better the lives of the students we serve.

Thank you for all you do, and I pray that you and your family will have a peaceful and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.

Brad Barnett
SASFAA President

Monday, November 21, 2011

What happens with the anticipated failure of the Super Committee?


The Budget Control Act was signed into law on August 2nd, 2011.  This Act increased the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion.  How did this effect student aid programs?

1)      Elimination of in-school interest subsidy for grad and professional students (no more sub!)
2)      Additional $17 billion for Pell for FY12 and FY13
3)      Elimination of Direct Loan repayment incentives
Also created the 12 member Super Committee tasked to come up with legislation creating at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23rd.

Effects of sequestration (automatic spending cuts)?


Congressional aides are reporting that forgoing any unforeseen circumstances, the Super Committee will announce TODAY their failure to reach a deficit agreement deal.  Even IF a deal is reached, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) would have to review the legislation prior to being sent to Congress.

Nonexempt, discretionary programs would be reduced by an estimated 7.8% across the board cut according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Pell is exempt from any across the board cut.  These cuts would go into effect in FY13 – January 2013 AFTER the 2012 election process.

Funding for the U.S. Department of Education would be reduced by $3.54 billion as a result of sequestration.

SEOG, FWS, and Federal TRIO programs and GEAR UP would see a total of $221.8 million in cuts, affecting millions of students.


As a result of the looming Super Committee’s failure, it is likely they will dismantle the Committee and discontinue negotiations.  Any failure to meet the November 23rd deadline will revoke the power given to the Committee to “protect their-debt-reduction package from Congressional procedures to block legislation.”

Stay tuned for more on As the Financial Aid World Turns…

SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee

Super Committee Update

Members of the Super Committee (12 Congressional Leaders) were charged with trying to arrive
at $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.  Congressional sources indicate that no deal will be reached.  Aides are trying to focus on how to announce to the nation that no deal has been reached.

A senior Democratic aide has indicated that talks are over to reach a deficit reduction agreement.  No final decision has been made, however, barring an unforeseen breakthrough, the "no-deal" announcement is looming.

The Congressional Super Committee was tasked with proposing ways to reduce deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years to stave off automatic spending cuts, known as a sequester.  7 out of the 12 Super Committee members would have to approve a deficit reduction plan in order to send it to the both houses of Congress in the form of legislation.

Then both chambers of Congress would vote on the legislation without amendment by December 23rd.  For the legislation to pass, a simple majority would be required in each chamber of Congress.

Failure to pass any agreement could result in $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts across much of the federal budget starting in 2013, evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Congress this week that such cuts could cripple the American military establishment.

Since Congress made the law governing the sequester, it can also amend or repeal it, as some lawmakers are suggesting.

SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee
Amy L. Berrier
Assistant Director for Operations
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Financial Aid Office
723 Kenilworth Street
PO Box 26170
Greensboro, NC  27402

SASFAA Board sends letter to Washington

Greetings SASFAA -

President Brad Barnett and I were authorized by the SASFAA Executive Board at last week's meeting to compose and send a letter to all Senators and Representatives in the SASFAA states.  The letter asks for support of the student financial aid programs as well as opposes cuts to these programs pending a looming Super Committee failure.  A failure by the Super Committee would kick off automatic spending cuts - effective January 2013.  A letter was faxed to all 18 Senators and 93 House of Representative Members today.  We want to express our thanks to NASFAA for providing the template that we used as the foundation for crafting our letter.

Feel free to let Brad or myself know if you have any questions.


Amy Berrier
SASFAA Legislative Relations Chair

Brad Barnett
SASFAA President

November SASFAA Board Meeting Review

Good afternoon SASFAA,

The SASFAA Executive Board met November 16 -18 in Greensboro, NC.  The following is a summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.  This is not an all-inclusive list of everything that was discussed.  You will be able to find more details about the meeting in the minutes, which will be posted to the SASFAA website following their approval at the February meeting. 

·         The Board approved slate of candidates for the office of President-Elect, Vice President, and Secretary.  You will hear more about this from Past President Sandy Neel as we get closer to the beginning of the election process.
·         The Board approved changes to the SASFAA Policy and Procedure Manual for our new blog, including converting the Newsletter Committee to the Communications and Outreach Committee.  I hope you have been enjoying the blog so far.  SASFAA appears to be only the 2nd financial aid association in the country to move to a blog format in place of a newsletter, so we are entering unchartered territory here.  This update to our manual is going to provide some operational structure as we move forward determining the most effective way to use this format.
·         The Board approved updates to the financial sections of the SASFAA Policy & Procedure Manual and Guide to Financial Management.
·         The Board reviewed reports from the various SASFAA committees regarding their work so far and plans for the near future.
·         The Board approved a site location for our the 2012 Transition Board Meeting
·         The Board approved a location for Summer 2012 New Aid Officer’s Workshop.  You will hear more about this from the SASFAA Vice President, Runan Pendergrast. 
·         The SASFAA Operational Calendar was updated.
·         The Board approved the February 2012 Annual Conference Fee and we are happy to report that conference planning is well under way.  It appears we have a great line up of speakers from the Department of Education, NASFAA, as well as aid officers companies from within and without the SASFAA region. This includes two pre-conference workshops. You will hear more about this from SASFAA Conference Chair, Shelley Park.
·         The Board approved sending a letter to the House of Representative members and Senators in support of student financial aid.  We are using the NASFAA templates as the guide for crafting our letter. This template can be found at http://www.nasfaa.org/advocacy/budget-2012/Act_Now_to_Prevent_Cuts_to_Pell_Grants.aspx.
·         Issues related to the transition of moving SASFAA from ATAC to Wild Apricot for hosting our website were discussed, including some decisions made regarding the transfer and storage of data.  This move will save SASFAA thousands of dollars and will occur at the beginning of the 2012-13 SASFAA year.  There is a lot of work that has to take place between and then to make that transition happen.
·         For various reasons SASFAA has not rotated between the 9 states for our annual conference for the past few years, and it appears this many continue for the foreseeable future.  Every effort is being made to find central locations that provide the best opportunity for as many SASFAA members as possible to attend this very important training event.  The Board realizes that one of the drawbacks of not rotating between all states is that each state will not have the opportunity to benefit from the charity project, as the charity is generally an organization from the host state.  For that reason the board voted to create a state rotation for the purposes of the charity, beginning with the 2012 conference in North Carolina.  A charity in North Carolina will be the recipient of our fund raising efforts at the 2012 conference.  In 2013 it will be a charity in Georgia to coincide with our 50th anniversary conference.  After that the charity will rotate to another state, even if that state is not hosting the conference. The state order will be determined at the February Board Meeting.
·         The Board reviewed the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that was created in collaborating between the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The board created a three page document outlining questions, concerns, and recommended adjustments to this proposed sheet.  The document has been shared with NASFAA, who is working with the financial aid association leaders to collect information about this new initiative.
·         Each of the 9 SASFAA states provided a report to the board of what is happening in their states and with their associations.

Have a great day and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Brad Barnett
SASFAA President

Saturday, November 12, 2011

SASFAA Board Meeting

Good morning SASFAA,

The SASFAA Board is meeting November 16-18 in Greensboro, NC.  Please let me know if there is anything you would like the board to discuss at this time.  You can send me an e-mail at barnetbd@jmu.edu.

Have a great weekend!

Brad Barnett
SASFAA President

Friday, November 11, 2011

SASFAA President-elect Reports on NASFAA Board Meeting

Part of my responsibility as SASFAA President-elect is to submit a report to the SASFAA Board providing an update on NASFAA activities.  While this report does not encompass everything that is going on in NASFAA right now, it provides a brief overview of some of the things that have taken place. 

NASFAA Fall Report to SASFAA    
ü  NASFAA conducts Standards of Excellence Reviews (SOE) for schools who would like to have their Financial Aid Office reviewed as a result of an anticipated program review or a change of leadership at the school or other reasons.  NASFAA has seen an increase in the number of reviews provided to schools.  During the 2009-2010 year NASFAA had 43 schools requesting a cost estimate for a review.  The 2010-2011 year saw 101 cost estimates.  The first quarter of 2011-2012 has seen 47 cost estimates.  NASFAA does charge a fee for this service, but it is worthwhile.
ü  NASFAA saw an increase of conference attendees in Boston this summer compared to prior years.  Boston had 2,374 attendees where Denver 2010 had 1,788 and San Antonio 2009 had 1,845.  It is good to see things picking up.

ü  NASFAA training has several methods to provide training to the Financial Aid Profession.  This fall NASFAA made available to the states and regions a training module on Satisfactory Academic Progress.  NASFAA also has a webinar series.  On December 16th Cash Management, February 2012 Summer Issues, March 2012 Default Prevention Strategies, May 2012 Reviewing Education Programs for Title IV Eligibility, and June 2012 Hot Issues.  A NASFAA member could have purchased the package when they renewed their membership or they can make a single purchase.  Single purchase is $105 per webinar for members and $210 for nonmembers.  NASFAA is offering for 2011-2012 a training track for states and regions at their conferences.  SASFAA, of course, is participating.  Also we have five of our nine states participating this year (AL, FL, GA, SC, and VA).  NASFAA is also developing a credentialed training program.  Options for credentialed training will include online courses, self-study guides or even an on-site service. 

ü  NASFAA’s membership is up 140 institutions year to date at the end of October.  This is great news.

ü  NASFAA is seeing an increase to their social media.  Facebook has 34 new followers and Twitter has 96 new followers.

Jeff Dennis
SASFAA President-elect

SASFAA President's Report to NASFAA November Board Meeting

Part of my responsibility as SASFAA President is to submit a report to the NASFAA Board providing an update on SASFAA activities.  While this report does not encompass everything that is going on in SASFAA right now, it provides a brief overview of some of the things that have taken place.  You will receive more information about what transpired during the NASFAA Board Meeting from your President-Elect, Jeff Dennis.

NASFAA Board of Director’s Meeting
November 6-7, 2011

The new SASFAA year began July 1st and a lot has taken place, with much more to come.  With elimination of FFELP and the economic recession SASFAA made several sacrifices over the past few years in order to maintain the financial viability of the organization.  Like other associations, much of our revenue stream had been eliminated and/or reduced and we were still obligated to contracts for conferences and meetings that were signed years in advance in some cases.  The decisions over the past few years to eliminate these items were difficult to make, but they were necessary and I am proud of the way the past SASFAA Boards responded to these financial challenges without depleting our reserves.  The work of those boards helped put us in the financial position we are in today.

The 2011-12 SASFAA year presents us with many opportunities since we entered this year without any long term contractual agreements.  Therefore, at the request of the board, we have proceeded in finding ways to add back some of the items that were eliminated during leaner times.  Those items include:
·         The SASFAA President and his/her designee will begin traveling to the state conferences again
·         A November face-to-face board meeting
·         A third night at the June Transition Meeting
·         For the first time in 30 years finding a new location for our June Transition Meeting…one that is more affordable and frees up money for other items

Many of the budgetary changes made this year also allow us to proceed with other initiatives, as well make changes that will reduce SASFAA expenditures over the long term.  Some of those highlights are:
·         The February 2013 conference will celebrate SASFAA’s 50th Anniversary, so we are able to dedicate funds from this year’s budget to be saved for next year knowing that we may want to spend more during the 50th anniversary conference than our regular conference budget would allow.  Being able to do this eliminates the need to use our reserves next year.
·         Through the work of our Legislative Relations Committee, SASFAA is partnering with EASFAA on two joint legislative events to be held in Washington D.C.  The first is in October and the second is in February.  Approximately 10 SASFAA members will be joining a host of EASFAA members to speak with legislators and their aides/staffers about issues related to financial aid.
·         We renamed our Newsletter Committee the Communication and Outreach Committee.   That committee is currently working with our Electronic Services Committee to create a blog which will replace our newsletter and listserv.  The blog will be called the SASFAA 9 News.  Policies and procedures are being written on how this will be implemented and managed.  The newsletter has outlived its usefulness in this day and age of instant communication.  It has become more of a reporting of past events than anything else.  That history is retained in the reports submitted at the board meetings and posted on our website for the membership to review.  Eliminating the newsletter will also reduce costs associated with this committee.
·         In 2012-13 SASFAA will be moving from ATAC to Wild Apricot to host our website.  The Electronic Services Committee is currently working on the migration, with a plan to go live in the 2012-13 year.  This move will significantly reduce SASFAA’s website costs, while still providing the functionality needed for our membership.
·         The Vice President is planning an FSA Debriefing event for SASFAA members to follow up on information discussed at the FSA conference.  This will allow those in attendance at FSA to receive the regulatory information needed to stay in compliance, and then discuss the implementation issues with their colleagues once they get back to their campuses.  NASFAA Board members Sandy Neel and Brent Tener are scheduled to be the facilitators for this event.

SASFAA has held true to a very conservative investment plan over the past several years (decades), which has served us well in protecting our assets and providing a steady stream of income in a higher interest rate climate.  Economically, it is likely to be a long time before rates on certificates of deposit increase again.  While our Vendor/Sponsor Chair has done a phenomenal job finding new sources of support and increasing the sponsorship contributions more than we could have anticipated in the current economic climate, the board realizes that a change in our investment strategy is necessary for the long term viability of SASFAA. For that reason, the board voted to accept NASFAA’s invitation to utilize Lepercq Lynx Investment Advisory, LLC for some of our long term investments.  We have since established that relationship and made an investment of $150,000 into our portfolio with them.  Additionally, we are moving away from certificate of deposits for our cash on hand to avoid tying up our money in the instruments that are paying very little in interest.  We are utilizing other interest bearing accounts that provide more liquidity than a certificate of deposit.

In the process of reviewing our budget some questions were raised about the amount we had allocated in our Accounting line.  In response to that I contacted the other regional presidents to learn more about how they file taxes and/or any tax liabilities they had over the years.  The responses I received were helpful, and through more discussions with Brenda Hicks, RMASFAA President, we raised some questions with the firm who has been doing our taxes.  In the end, the firm responded to our inquiry admitting that they simply overlooked a rule related to “unrelated business income” (UBI) as it pertains to advertising dollars in volunteer organizations.  Simply stated, we had paid unnecessary taxes for the past few years.   Our accountant has filed amended tax returns and we are expecting to receive over $11,000 in tax refunds, in addition to eliminating our estimated tax liability for the 2011 year. 

Many other activities are also taking place:
·         Our 2012 Annual Conference Committee is busy planning our conference that will take place February 26-29 in Greensboro, NC.  The theme of the conference is “Focusing on What’s Best For Our Students.”  The agenda is coming along nicely and it looks like we will have great representation from the Department of Education and NASFAA, including taking advantage of the NASFAA Trainer program.
  • The 2020 Committee is developing a resource guide to assist financial aid administrators with identifying funding options, financial plans, and support for veterans, as well as creating sessions for the annual conference that focus on completion strategies for first generation, non-traditional, disabled, and economically disadvantaged students.
  • We are in the process of evaluating sites for our June 2012 New Aid Officer’s Workshop (NAOW), and hope to have a site selected during our November Board Meeting.
  • Our Membership Committee is taking the reins for October 19th Financial Aid Day and has communicated information about this to the SASFAA membership.
  • Site Selection has done a magnificent job finding new locations for our November Board Meeting and June Transition Retreat.  Since we no longer have old contracts holding us to certain locations, the work of this committee has picked up as these sites, and the location for the June 2012 NAOW event needed to be found.  Another positive with Site Selection is our work with IMN to secure our 2013 Annual Conference site.  Our experience with them has been very positive, so much so that we signed on for another year to use them in securing a site for our 2014 conference.  There is no cost to the association or our members for this service.

In closing, SASFAA is in great shape.  I am extremely appreciative to all of the volunteers, elected officers, state presidents, and committee chairs for the work they have already done to get us off to a great start, as well as the work they have planned for the rest of the year.

Brad Barnett
2011-12 SASFAA President

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Webinar Training on ED's Quality Assurance Program

TG webinar on ED's Quality Assurance Program

Is your head spinning trying to learn all the new verification rules effective for the 2012-2013 award year? Imagine selecting who and what you want to verify at an institutional level using institutional specific data and techniques, determining acceptable documentation and evaluating the results of your verification efforts. All of this is possible under the Quality Assurance Program.

Join TG for a webinar — Changes to Verification Bring New Opportunities : Learn about the Quality Assurance Program — offered Thursday, November 17, from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. and 3 p.m.- 4 p.m. Central Time, to learn more about the U.S. Department of Education's Quality Assurance (QA) Program. We will review the QA Program requirements and tools available for your school to use. Determine if your participation in the QA Program can help you manage verification and maintain compliance in administering the Title IV programs. Become leaders in change and innovation and expand the program's reach to include increased representation from all school sectors.

About the presenter
The presenter for this webinar, Anne Baker Tuccillo, is a Management and Program Analyst in the Office of Federal Student Aid. Tuccillo began her federal service in 1984 as part of the Career Internship Program. Throughout her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education, Tuccillo has worked almost exclusively with the Title IV programs, specifically as a team member responsible for administering the Department's Quality Assurance Program. She serves as the team lead for the development of the ISIR Analysis Tool, is the Regional Quality Assurance Representative for Regions 3, 4, 6 and 7, and works in collaboration with members of her team to design and deliver training products and services to promote and to educate schools on the benefits of the Quality Assurance Program, the ISIR Analysis Tool, and the FSA Assessments.

To register
Register for this TG training online. Schedules for additional webinars and trainings are published regularly and announced in Shoptalk.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Financial Management Webinar For Your Students

Hello SASFAA Friends,

ECMC is hosting 2 webinars this week designed specifically for your students.  The topic centers on financial management and how to curb excessive holiday spending.  The webinars are 30 minutes in length and registration by the student is required.

To help you get the word out on campus, included below is some sample email text you can customize and send to your students to promote the 30-minute webinars.

Print our downloadable flier to post on campus:


Paula Craw
National Director, Outreach and Financial Literacy
757.374.6771 (phone)

Send email to students using sample email text:

You are invited to attend an interactive online seminar:
Avoid the holiday spending hangover...

In just 30 minutes, you will:
     Discover ways to cut back on holiday spending
     Reduce your December stress levels
     Learn how to start the new year without dreading your credit card statement

dates and times
Tuesday, November 8
10 a.m. PT / 11 a.m. MT / 12 p.m. CT / 1 p.m. ET

Thursday, November 10
1 p.m. PT / 2 p.m. MT / 3 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. ET

Jeff Southard
Senior Trainer, ECMC

register Today

About this online seminar
This seminar is being hosted by and presented by ECMC as a service to students, at no cost to our school or student participants. Registration information, which includes name and email address, will not be used for any reason other than to communicate with registrants about accessing the seminar online.

About ECMC
Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) is a nonprofit company providing services in support of higher education finance. We work to support college access and success, and we provide students with tools and resources for planning and paying for college.