Friday, May 25, 2012

State Report from South Carolina

South Carolina State Report
Allison Sullivan, President

SCASFAA – Celebrating 45 Years!!   

Our Annual SCASFAA Conference was held April 1-4, 2012 at the Embassy Suites in North Charleston with a basketball theme ‘SCASFAA - A Full Court Press to Excellence’.               

We had 129 in attendance including 11 vendors and it was a great success due to the hard work of our Conference Committee – we gave away 2 - ½ off Conference Fee prizes if members signed up within a certain time frame which helped increase membership to over 400 members this year which is a big increase from the past few years!

The SCASFAA Conference included sessions from NASFAA trainer Eunice Powell, Federal trainers David Bartnicki and Wood Mason, Greg Peoples from the Office of the Inspector General as well as our SASFAA President Brad Barnett. NASFAA President Justin Draeger gave us a NASFAA/Washington update via Skype!

SCASFAA raised over $2,000 at the conference for our charity The Navy Seals Foundation through our silent auction and raffle of a basketball game.

We awarded the following SCASFAA Awards at the conference:

Emerging Leader Award - Miss Donna Quick

Individuals nominated for the SCASFAA Emerging Leader Award shall be practicing student financial aid professionals who are current members of the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and who have made outstanding contributions to SCASFAA through their leadership and/or involvement in the Association and who have been members of SCASFAA for not more than seven years. Currently elected officers of the Association can be nominated for this award.

Achiever Award – Mr. Jeff Dennis

Fearless 9 Award - Mrs. Elizabeth Milam

Distinguished Service Award:
The SCASFAA Board has chosen 2 recipients of the Distinguished Service Award this year:

John Courson, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Chair of the subcommittee on higher education (part of the senate finance committee)
Representative Chip Limehouse, 1st vice-chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, and Chair of the W&M subcommittee on higher education.

Both of these legislators have been champions of higher education funding, including merit and need-based aid for students, even during the past few years as other areas have been cut drastically.  They have been instrumental in maintaining funding for student aid in our state.

SCASFAA’s better half award was given to Christy Bartnicki – Federal Trainer David Bartnicki’s wife and the inscription on the crystal plate stated “Behind Every Good Man Is A Great Woman”.

The Jerseys we will retired at our SCASFAA Conference this year included Bill Whitlock, Toni Cave, Glenn Shumpert, Chris Baker and Arlene Mathis – surprisingly none of them were in attendance at the conference this year I am sure they are busy with other things that retired people do whatever that is maybe gardening, hunting and playing golf J - along with their shirts they received a certificate of appreciation for their excellent service to SCASFAA.

We had one person who has been a member of SCASFAA for 25 years and that was Mr. Keith Reeves. He was awarded a certificate and a 25 year pin. He regretted that he was not able to attend the conference this year and told me that this is only his 2nd SCASFAA he has ever missed.

SCASFAA gave 2 scholarships to those member institutions that were drawn from the list of those who served and volunteered on committees this year the winners were:
Jennifer Williams – Diversity Committee member – Clemson University $1000 SCASFAA Scholarship goes to a student of their choice.
Allison Sullivan – Diversity Committee member – USC Upstate $1000 SCASFAA Scholarship goes to a student of their choice.

The results of our SCASFAA ELECTIONS for the 2012-2013 year were as follows:

President Elect - Katie Harrison - SC Tuition Grants Commission
Vice President - Missy Lutz - Newberry College

Secretary - Ellen Chiles - Greenville Technical College
Treasurer - Deborah Williams - Piedmont Technical College

Member at Large - Alicia Hugee – USC Aiken

Upcoming 2012 SCASFAA events:
Leadership training – rotates between mid-level and upper level – this year SCASFAA will have Director Level training is scheduled for May 31, 2012.

SCASFAA transition Board meeting is planned for June 4th-5th, 2012.
Submitted by:
Allison Sullivan
SCASFAA President 2011-2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

SASFAA President-elect Report

SASFAA President-elect Report
Jeff Dennis

The 2012-2013 year is fast approaching.  Have you volunteered yet to help make this coming year a success?  So far, 27 have volunteered.  SASFAA needs more of you to go to www.sasfaa.org then click  Member Services at the top of the page, then click Volunteer in the middle of the page.  When you have submitted the information I will receive an email confirmation.  One of the committee chairs will be in touch with you after July.  Thanks so much for volunteering.

It is not too early to remind you of the annual conference to be held in Atlanta, Georgia February 10-13, 2013 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia.  This will be SASFAA’s 50th anniversary and we hope to make this a special celebration as well as great training for you.  Mark your calendars and plan to be there.

Let’s have a great year serving together.  Your officers for next year include Brad Barnett from Virginia as your Past-President, Zita Barree from Virginia as your President-Elect, Mike Reynolds from Alabama as your Vice-President, Sharon Oliver from North Carolina as your Secretary, and Nancy Garmroth from South Carolina as your Treasurer.

Staffing Survey Documents Growing Workload for Financial Aid Offices

Staffing Survey Documents Growing Workload for Financial Aid Offices

Financial aid offices are serving more students and administering more student aid dollars with fewer operating expenses, according to a recent staffing survey of National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) members.

The survey collected 2010-11 award year data from nearly 1,000 financial aid offices at different types of institutions from across the country. The data was used to develop the 2012 NASFAA Staffing Model and Staffing Model Report, two resources designed to help financial aid offices compare their staff size with similar institutions.

Findings from the 2012 survey suggest that financial aid offices are doing more with less when compared to results from the 2006 report. Specifically, the report finds:

More Applicants and Recipients

On average, financial aid offices served nearly 50% more student aid applicants and recipients in 2010-11 than in the 2004-05. Financial aid offices reported serving an average 8,586 applicants and 5,911 recipients -- up from 5,773 applicants and 3,961 recipients.

More Aid Dollars

Aid offices reported administering almost twice as much student aid dollars than they reported for the 2006 report. On average, financial aid offices administered $76.5 million in student aid compared to $40.2 million in the 2006 report.

Fewer Resources

On average, campuses have slightly increased spending on financial aid staff salaries and benefits. However, funding for "all other operating expenses" has been cut by more than 50% since 2006. In 2010-11, financial aid offices reported having $7,243 in other operating expenses per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee -- down from $16,043 in 2006.

Staff Size

The average financial aid office has 12 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff or four FTE staff per 1,000 applicants. However, specific staffing levels varied greatly between institutions and institution types. Public institutions reported having an average of two FTE staff per 1,000 applicants compared to five at private not-for-profit institutions and 16 at for-profit institutions. Considering that two-thirds of financial aid offices reported facing a "moderate" or "severe" resource shortage in NASFAA's 2010 Administrative Burden Survey, these FTE averages could be below the optimal staffing level.

Factors Impacting Staff Size

NASFAA’s 2012 Staffing Model uses survey results to identify and quantify key factors that impact financial aid office staff size. The Staffing Model allows users to enter the factors that impact their aid office to develop a customized estimate of the appropriate staff size. The Staffing Model Report highlights trends in these factors, including:


Most respondents reported verifying 50% or less financial aid applications. Sixty-five percent of respondents verified between 21% to 50% of applications.

Need Analysis

A large majority (81%) of institutions only used federal methodology and did not use additional or institutional need analysis procedures.

Similar to 2006, nearly all respondents (95%) used computer software to automate financial aid functions. Administrators reported either completely or partially automating many financial aid functions. At least 40% of respondents have completely automated document tracking, awarding/packaging federal aid, electronic award notifications, view web access to student records, and batch processing of student records.

Other Campus Offices

The number of FTE staff working on financial aid related administration, but employed in other campus offices, ranged from an average of 0.1 to more than 30. More than a third (36%) of respondents had an average of 2-10 FTE working on financial aid but employed in other offices. Another 17% had more than 30 FTE in other offices and most of these respondents were at public or private not-for-profit institutions.
NASFASA members may view the complete report and use the model to compare their staff size to similar institutions and get an analysis of where they stand in relation to their peers. Non-members may purchase the full report online.

This article is printed by permission of NASFAA.

2012 SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshop

SASFAA will be “Soaring to New Heights in Financial Aid” at our New Aid Officers Workshop June 17 – 22.  You still have time to SOAR with us-- REGISTER NOW --

The SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshop is an intense professional development activity designed to provide a working knowledge of the federal financial aid programs, as well as an understanding of the laws and regulations that govern these programs. The curriculum will take the student from A-Z covering the basics of financial aid.

Intended Audience
The workshop is intended for new financial aid administrators with less than three years of experience in the field of financial aid. Other individuals whose professional responsibilities include significant contact with the financial aid process are welcome to attend the workshop on a space-available basis. Preference will be given to financial aid administrators.

Format of Workshop
A carefully selected faculty of experienced aid administrators selected from the SASFAA states and representing diverse institutions will provide instruction. These individuals will team-teach and work with the same class of participants throughout the week. Instruction will include the use of case studies, lectures, and interactive instruction. The faculty will be on site for the entire week, providing opportunities for ample interaction outside the classroom.

Location and Dates
The workshop will be held on the campus of North Carolina Central University (NCCU). Founded in 1910, NCCU historic campus is in Durham, in the heart of North Carolina's vibrant Research Triangle. Visit NCCU’s website at
www.nccu.edu to view the campus. Classes will be conducted in classrooms that contain PC’s, and other equipment. Participants should plan to arrive no later than 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, 2012 to check-in and take care of on-site registration activities. Check-in and on-site registration will be from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, 2012. The first class begins at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, 2012. The workshop will end on Friday, June 22, 2012 by 11:30 a.m. for room check-out. Participants may arrive on Saturday, June 16, 2012. Check-in and on-site registration will be available from 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm on Saturday. There is an additional charge of $20 if you arrive on Saturday. Please make your travel arrangements to allow you to arrive before the workshop begins on Sunday afternoon and for you to attend all of Friday morning activities.

Registration fee for the workshop is $675, if registration is completed by May 26, 2012 and $725 if registration is completed after May 26, 2012. The registration fee includes all instructional materials, most meals, housing and your 2012-2013 SASFAA membership ($35). Early arrivals- those arriving on Saturday, June 16, 2012 will be charged an additional $20 fee to cover the additional night’s lodging.

Housing will be provided in Ruffin Hall located on NCCU’s campus. This facility opened in August 2005. This suite style, building has a combination of two person suites with a lounge area and bathroom within the suite. Ruffin is located in the West Campus on the corner of Fayetteville and Larson Streets. You must provide your own television, laptop and other electronic devices. Wireless access is available in many areas of campus. Each bedroom has one single bed, one desk and chair, one chest-of-drawers, and one closet. Linens include one pillow, one pillowcase, two sheets, one thin blanket, bath towel and washcloth.

All meals will be cafeteria meals except for Wednesday night. Beginning with dinner on Sunday, June 17, 2012, participants will be provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner except for Wednesday dinner which is on your own. Morning and afternoon breaks will be provided. There are several special activities and functions planned throughout the week.

North Carolina Central University is located in Durham, NC. Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU) services seven (7) major airlines and/or commuter flights from around the country. You are responsible for your transportation from the airport to NCCU. Shuttle services are available. Shuttle services information can be found online at
http://www.airportshuttles.com/supershuttle-raleigh.php.  Taxis cost range from $20 - $38 each way.  For driving directions, please visit NCCU’s website at http://www.nccu.edu/aboutnccu/drivingdirections.cfm

You can register for this workshop online. Space is limited so register early!

For more information contact:
Runan Pendergrast, SASFAA Vice President
Bluegrass Community & Technical College

Mandy Branch-Friar, Curriculum Coordinator
University of Georgia

Cynthia Grant, Local Arrangements

Nancy Garmroth, SASFAA Treasurer

Mississippi State Report

Mississippi State Report
Seph Anderson

MASFAA has had a great first half of the year, and we have a lot of things to look forward to in the remainder of 2011-2012 as we move closer to our annual conference May 23-25 at The Inn at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.

2011 Fall Training

MASFAA Vice-President Greg Windham (Northeast Mississippi Community College) and his training committee  prepared an excellent fall training event that took place Wednesday October 12, 2011 at the Mississippi State University – Meridian Campus. The training was conducted by Department of Education trainers Mike Roberts and Wood Mason, along with State of Mississippi Financial Aid Director, Jennifer Rogers. We had 83 members attend Fall Training, and the event was well-received by all. We thank our trainers for their continued support of our association.  

2011 FSA Conference Follow-Up

I was pleased to see many familiar faces while attending the Federal Student Aid (FSA) conference in Las Vegas, NV this past November. In the midst of mobs of attendees, I’m happy to report that many from the MASFAA family attending FSA made time for a dutch-treat lunch together at the Rainforest CafĂ©. The MASFAA lunch during FSA was well-received by those in attendance, and provided a great chance for those members to both talk business and share a few laughs together. It’s something we plan to continue in the future. 

2012 NASFAA Leadership Conference

On the topic of conferences, the MASFAA board decided to send President-Elect Cindy May (Ole Miss) and Treasurer Brett Barefoot (Ole Miss) to the 2012 NASFAA Leadership Conference (March 4-6. 2012) in the Washington, D.C. area. Many MASFAA leaders have participated in this conference over the years and gained skills necessary to effectively lead MASFAA into the future, and I was very pleased to hear Brett and Cindy also found the conference to be insightful  as they prepare for enhanced leadership roles in 2012-2013.

2012 MASFAA Conference - May 23-25, 2012 - The Inn at Ole Miss

Nicole Patrick (Mississippi University for Woman), chair of the conference committee, has worked diligently with her conference committee members for months now planning and preparing for what should be one of the best conferences we have had in years! The selected theme of “Team MASFAA” is very fitting, as we have all really united in recent years due to things ranging from the conversion to DL to budget constraints faced by each of our offices. Understanding budget issues remain at the forefront for all of our offices, I’m pleased that our board voted to keep the conference registration at $150 as it was the prior year. In terms of the conference program, NASFAA President Justin Draeger, SASFAA Past-President Sandy Neel, and Department of Education Federal Trainers Dave Bartnicki and Wood Mason are among a host of individuals scheduled to present during conference.

Attendees are sure to be surprised by the headline member of the band performing at the President’s Reception, as Bruce Crain (retired Mississippi State University Financial Aid Director) will be performing with his band, Swingshift!

2012 MASFAA “Honorary Lifetime Members”

During Fall Training, our membership voted on nominees to receive the esteemed recognition of being “Honorary Lifetime Members.” After all ballots were counted, there were two individuals chosen: Bruce Crain and Jeanie Hughes. Both individuals have given a great deal of themselves personally and professionally to advance the mission of MASFAA over the years. Bruce served as Director of Financial Aid at Mississippi State University for many years, while among other places Jeanie Hughes most recently spent a great number of years with Education Services Foundation. Bruce and Jeanie are set to be honored as “Honorary Lifetime Members” during the upcoming conference in May.

2013 Conference Site Selection

After a thorough review of proposals for the 2013 conference, our board selected Harrah’s Casino and Resort in Tunica, MS to host the 2013 MASFAA Conference.

Seph Anderson
11-12 MASFAA President
Student Loan Coordinator
Office of Financial Aid
The University of Mississippi
257 Martindale Student Services Center
University, MS 38677
(662) 915-5546 office
(662) 915-1164 fax

Tips for getting students thinking about repayment while they’re still in school

Tips for getting students thinking about repayment while they’re still in school

Chansone Durden, TG Regional Account Executive Team Manager

With student debt balances higher than usual and a job market that remains challenging, worsening cohort default rates are a worry on many campuses.

Raul Lerma, interim executive director of financial aid and veterans affairs at El Paso Community College, says that his school’s numbers have been bucking the trend. Here are some tips he offers based on his experience. These three methods all involve ways schools can engage current students now to actively prevent default later.

Start repayment now

“The basic challenge,” he says, “is to help the students understand that they really do have to pay this money back. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real to them that they actually will need to make payments at some point.

“Therefore, it’s a good idea to get them making payments while they’re still in school. That might just be $50, but it’s still a good idea, because it creates two benefits. First, it chips away at the amount a little, and that’s obviously good, but the second benefit is more important: that tiny payment creates the habit and makes repayment real for them.”

Use in-person entrance counseling

Another strategy Lerma uses to manage default rates is to require in-person entrance counseling every academic year. “A lot of schools do this counseling online,” he says, “or it’s in-person the first year and online after that. But I think in-person counseling makes more of an impact, so we require it every academic year.”

Besides the impact of being in a session with an actual instructor, Lerma notes that there is also the benefit of teachable moments as students can ask questions, with an expert to answer at that moment.

Reinforce with brochures or even intermediate sessions
Lerma says that his office has also been employing a tactic of reinforcing loan repayment concepts often. “Whenever a student comes in our office for any reason,” he says, “we ask if they have loans. If they do, we give them an informative booklet.” The idea is that it might take several attempts to gain the student’s deep attention and have them engage the subject matter. Reinforcing the material with the brochure boosts the likelihood that students will read and understand the important information they need to grasp.

He adds, “We’re also considering the idea of getting students in for intermediate counseling sessions to reinforce what they may have forgotten from entrance counseling.”

In short, getting students to start repaying their loans while still in school (even if it’s only $50 per month), using in-person rather than online entrance counseling, and reinforcing the importance of repayment at every opportunity, may be effective ways to keep cohort default rates under control. The results at El Paso Community College seem to confirm that they are.

Chansone Durden is a regional account executive team manager with TG. You can reach Chansone at (800) 252-9743, ext. 6710, or by email at chansone.durden@tgslc.org.

Online financial literacy training that works: Making lessons stick

Online financial literacy training that works: Making lessons stick

Chansone Durden, TG Account Executive Team Manager

Online financial literacy training is an efficient and helpful way to teach important concepts if — and this is a big “if”— the lessons actually stick with the students. What strategies can boost the “stickiness factor” in online financial literacy training?


Malcolm Gladwell coined the term “stickiness” in his now-classic book The Tipping Point. Gladwell, writing about educational television shows like Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, was referring to the qualities that make messages better understood and remembered. Chip and Dan Heath, two brothers who are both experts on communication, took the term as inspiration for their 2007 book Made to Stick. Whether it’s political communication, classroom teaching, or urban legends, the Heath brothers argued, there are common elements to messages that catch on.

Of course the best teachers, through years of trial and error, and through the immediate feedback of being in the same room as their students, know when to shift strategies to enhance the lesson’s stickiness factor. One concern that skeptics have expressed about online learning is that it lacks that feedback loop, as well as the expert teacher’s understanding of students.

Skepticism aside, online learning isn’t going away anytime soon. For any number of reasons — budget, scalability, desire to engage technologically-inclined 21st-century learners — online learning continues to grow in popularity. A September 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) — Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies found that online learning is one of the fastest growing trends in education. Not only that, the review reports that online learning was slightly more effective than face-to-face learning under some circumstances, and that a blended approach (online and face-to-face learning) was more effective still.

Given the potential suggested by those findings, it’s worth asking: what are ways that online learning can be most effective? If we’re going down this road — since we’re going down this road — how can we get the best results? How can we best apply what we know about making messages stick, as well as research into educational best practices, to online learning? Here are some tips to make online lessons stick.

1.      Keep it active

ED’s review found that when learners are prompted to take control of their interactions with media, there is an increase in reflection and achievement. These moments of learner activity or learner reflection are especially effective at boosting understanding when students are pursuing online learning individually. That makes intuitive sense if we speculate that active engagement disrupts the tendency to skim along the surface of the material. At the same time, it’s worth noting that online learning — particularly with interactivity — is highly conducive to expanding learning time. When the student can keep at the activity as long as attention lasts, better learning outcomes can be expected.

How might this apply to online financial literacy training?

For online financial literacy training, it might be a good idea to break content into short chunks, with frequent opportunities for assessment, and some student control of navigational paths. When students are regularly coming to natural stops, answering questions, and clicking on meaningful navigation choices to determine what comes next, better outcomes are likely. When game-like activities with fun interfaces are part of the training, brain switches are more likely to be in the “on” position.

2.      Ask thought-provoking questions

A recent study by Dr. Sylvie Kerger from the University of Luxembourg shows that girls are more interested in learning science lessons when the scientific concepts are presented in terms the students might think of as more feminine than typical boy-oriented science instruction. For example, “How can we make the colors in tie-dye shirts look brighter?” might frame the lesson in a more girl-friendly way than “Today we’re going to learn about ph and water solubility.” The effect isn’t specific to online learning, nor is the gender issue the salient point for our specific purposes. The point is that material that is dry and difficult in the abstract can be made interesting when presented in concrete, student-adapted terms. Online learning, like face-to-face learning, must prepare the way by provoking thought and curiosity on the topics at hand.

How might this apply to online financial literacy training?

It’s easy to see how relevant financial literacy content could be made concrete for students. For example, getting students to understand the differences between a defined benefit retirement plan and a defined contribution retirement plan may seem daunting at first. Not only is the material inherently unflashy, retirement is far from the thoughts of most college students. However, job offers are very much on students’ minds, so framing that information in terms of choosing the best job offer creates pedagogical leverage in gaining and holding student attention.

3.      Appeal to the eye

Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, writes that it’s obvious that vision is our dominant sense, but what’s surprising is how far the other sense lag behind. For example, on hearing a piece of information, a typical human being will remember only about 10% of it three days later. What’s the effect of adding a strong visual component? Retention moves quickly northward, with most people remembering 65% or so of the message!

Good visual design, including animation, charts, motion graphics, and appealing colors and fonts, can go a long way toward helping the brain learn and retain concepts.

How might this apply to online financial literacy training?

An under-designed, text-heavy lesson isn’t going to carry the day. Conversely, it’s just as true that an overly busy design will be distracting, confusing, and cluttered. The recipe for likely success is consistent use of appealing fonts, clear page design, and engaging visuals that carry through different course elements. This component of effective online learning is why many subject matter experts can’t just put their ideas online and effectively attract students. The way things look isn’t just ornamental. It’s an important pedagogical factor to which good attention should be paid.  
4.      Make connections with internal summaries

In 2003, scholar Robert Marzano published a paper analyzing 395 experimental studies and looking for classroom practices that research could confirm led to a boost in achievement. Some were among education’s all-time greatest hits. Not many readers will be surprised that the following all boosted achievement:

·         applying compare and contrast as a thinking tool,

·         getting positive reinforcement from teachers,

·         practicing new skills to attain mastery, and

·         having a teacher who made the learning objectives very clear.

Perhaps less predictably, teachers who regularly use internal summaries get better results. One reason is that summaries orient the students, helping them map new information onto what they already know. Another is that this practice models that particular thinking skill for students, getting them in the habit of synthesizing information (one of the higher order thinking skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy).

It’s all about helping the students add the new knowledge to their cognitive maps. Internal summaries secure the learning that has just happened, and prepare the way for the learning to come. In Made to Stick, the Heath brothers talk about how high-concept movie descriptions (“Aliens is basically Jaws in outer space.”) use what’s already known to make new information more accessible and memorable.

How might this apply to online financial literacy training?

Online learning offers many opportunities to use internal summary to model that thinking skill for students. With financial literacy lessons, for example, transitioning from credit reports to credit scores offers the opportunity for this internal summary by analogy: a credit report is like a teacher conference, getting into the details of your credit history, whereas a credit score is like a grade, distilling those details into one number.

All these strategies (and this just scratches the surface) help to make solid online learning courses effective. With this kind of approach, the advantages of online learning are available in conjunction with best educational practices to help make financial literacy lessons that stick.

Chansone Durden is an Account Executive Team Manager with TG serving schools in SASFAA. You can reach Chansone at (800) 252-9743, ext. 2513, or by email at chansone.durden@tgslc.org.