Friday, September 28, 2012

20/20 Committee Update

Submitted by Nathan Basford

Dear SASFAA Members & Friends:

What is the 20/20 Committee you may ask?  It is what was once known as the "Diversity Committee".

Guess we have all heard those words ,”Diversity Committee” and sometimes may feel that we have beaten that poor horse to death.

The 20/20 Committee name was chosen based on President Obama’s address to the country (see below) stating that by the year 2020; America will have the highest number of college graduates in the world. 

In an increasingly competitive world economy, America’s economic strength depends upon the education and skills of its workers.  In the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as those requiring no college experiences.   To meet this economic imperative, President Obama ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training and set a new national goal: By 2020. America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. 

So we now have a brief history of the renaming of the “Diversity Committee”, and we can move forward! 

This year your 20/20 Committee members are: Jackie Owens, Chansone Durden, Sylvia Jones, Felicia Alister, Melinda Shoy-Clarke, Lisa Carey, Heather Vaughan and Nathan Basford. The committee chair is Em McNair.

Your 20/20 committee has been working to ensure that the upcoming annual conference will be very memorable, especially since it is our “50th Anniversary Celebration”  here are a few of the events that have been planned by the 20/20 committee:
·        Spelman College Glee Club February 10th.
·        Atlanta Institute of Music Jazz Band February 10th President’s reception 7:00 – 8:00 pm
·        Urban Harp Ensemble:  Perform a mini-concert & provide music during dinner on February 12th.
·        Georgia Perimeter  Jazz Band:  Sunday, February 12th 8:30 pm till Midnight
·        Art Exhibit:  Local art from schools around the Atlanta area will be on display during the conference.

Diversity Sessions:
·        Advocacy for Students & Persons with Disabilities
·        “Modern Family”: A Counseling Guide for Financial Aid Professionals

Along with working on conference activities, the committee will begin looking at a possible name change for the committee.  Yes, you read right!  As I stated earlier we have discussed diversity over and over again, and now we must begin to look out- side-the-box to re- define diversity. 

This is an exciting committee to serve on, so if you feel that you have something to offer, and yes, we all do, contact any of the members of the committee to see how you can make a difference.  You can find their contact information by visiting: www.sasfaa.org

We hope to see many of you in Atlanta!

Continue to have a great semester!                              

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Florida Report

 A FASFAA Update!   
Dear Members & Friends:

I am very excited to have the honor and opportunity to serve a third term as FASFAA’s president.  An association that is alive with enthusiastic members, current and past leaders that help remind all of us why we are here and why FASFAA was created. 

We have been very busy this year making sure that we provide our members and non-members valuable training opportunities.  We have scheduled the following regional workshops:

·        Region I:  October 12th Panama City, FL.
·        Region II: October 12th Gainesville, FL.
·        Region III: November 2nd Sanford, FL.
·        Region IV: November 9th Tampa, FL.
·        Region V:  October 12th  Miami, FL

Along with our regional workshops we are also offering the following training opportunities:
·        FASFAA NAOW (New Aid Officer Workshop) October 24-26th.
·        FASFAA Clock Hour Workshop TPD January 2013.

In order to be fiscal responsible, the two workshops above will be linked with our executive board meetings, thus saving cost to the association on rooms, food, and travel expenses.

Please visit our website at www.fasfaa.org  to check out all the training opportunities that we offer throughout the year, and also check out the training opportunities that our resource partners also offer. 

I encourage each state association as well as SASFAA to promote all their resource partners training opportunities.

The theme for FASFAA this year is:  Moving Forward with Change!

We as financial aid professionals in Florida and each state exist to help address the interests and needs of students and parents in achieving their educational dreams.  In existing we must continue to Move Forward with Change! 

We as an association represent institutions of all sizes and types from proprietary schools to large universities.  Our membership includes representatives from our lender partners, software providers, servicing agencies, and others.

We all strive to ensure that at the end of the day we have made a difference!

We will be seeking nominations for recipients for our FASFAA awards in January as well as for our elections that will be held in March.  I will provide more updated information as nominations are received and reviewed. 

Our annual conference will be held May 21-24th in Bonita Springs.  Our conference chair, Kim Phillips and her committee have been busy getting things moving.  The theme of the conference is:  Moving Foward...Change Will  Do You Good!

One of our main goals this year is to be sure that we get the opportunity to encourage financial aid professionals within the state to get involved in FASFAA.

To continue our great mission for Florida and all state associations we need volunteers!  The life blood of any association is its volunteers!  I encourage each of you to get involved!  Volunteer!

I look forward to a very productive and successful year.

Nathan Basford
12-13 FASFAA President

Self-service websites can be a school’s best friend

Submitted by Chansone Durden, TG Account Executive Team Manager

Make it simple and they will come — that’s the motto many colleges subscribe to as they put school resources online and at the disposal of students and parents. More institutions are going one better — automate it and they will love you. Like other industries, higher education has quickly found the ease and efficiency of letting customers do it themselves. From applying for admission to picking courses online, many students can complete all the work of getting into college without even setting foot on campus.

Financial aid offices have found self-service websites to be a particular boon. Enrollment continues to grow — some 21 million college students will start or continue their degree this fall, according to federal statistics — while state budgets continue to shrink. Florida offers a case in point. As with many other states, Florida is looking to balance its budget by, in part, cutting higher education funds. This move comes as large universities like the University of Central Florida (UCF) grapple with surging enrollment. UCF’s student population has spiked in the last decade, an increase the university managed partly by automating its financial aid processes, according to Eugene Manselle, Web strategist for UCF’s Office of Student Financial Assistance.

Promoting student self-service culture
“About 2001 or so, when enrollment began rising,” said Manselle, “we started researching systems that could handle most of our financial aid processes.” According to Manselle, UCF considered a number of school-based systems, or SBS’s, before deciding on one that allowed them to tailor Web features and add more functions as needed.

The myUCF portal is one result. The portal provides a central, secure location where UCF students can access resources related to most aspects of their campus lives, from admissions and financial aid to work-study, book purchases, tuition payments, and more.

“Students can register for courses or get their grades,” said Manselle. “They can accept or decline financial aid, or complete online classes.” The portal also offers a “to-do” list for students, which reminds them what forms to submit, what “holds” they may have on financial aid, and what required workshops they have to left complete. All students have to take an alcohol awareness training, for example.

How do students like the website? “I think it gives the students a sense of empowerment and responsibility,” noted Manselle. “It also saves them a lot of time, which is a good thing. They don’t have to visit departments across campus in order to transact business.”

From the university’s perspective, the financial aid website and myUCF are a win-win. Automation cuts print costs; helps the school as a whole promote a more eco-friendly, sustainable business model; and makes a multitude of instructions, policies, and forms available at the swipe of a mouse.

A streamlining formula
Even the best-run businesses can be improved. Good office managers consider every aspect of operations as an opportunity for making the business stronger, and websites are an obvious candidate for making improvements — if only to take advantage of what the latest technology offers.

If you're responsible for content on your school's financial aid website, consider how you can make it a more versatile, information-rich tool for your customers. You'll find that with the right combination of features and functions you can anticipate questions and reduce the administrative burden on you and your colleagues. Here are a few suggested website ideas.

·        Self-serve forms center: Stock your website electronically with federal applications and forms that help you explain the financial aid process, work-study, student job placement, or college and career success. As much as possible, make information that's available in hardcopy form also available electronically. You'll cut time for students searching for information and save them a trip to the financial aid office.

·        Sample spending plans: If they just graduated from high school, your freshmen probably have little experience balancing a checkbook or computing their monthly expenses. Give them a template spending plan to follow so they can plan for costs. A worksheet can help them anticipate annual cost-of-living requirements and provide a handy tool for establishing smart fiscal behavior.

·        Calculators: More colleges are offering online calculators to help students project monthly loan payments after graduation; to gauge the expected family contribution; or even to determine net earnings given a certain salary level. You could also consider offering an expected earnings calculator. A student in a chosen field could compare what he or she might expect for a reasonable wage with projected student loan payments.

·        Feedback conduit: Offer your students a way to rate or provide an opinion about your site or about the services you provide. You'll get useful information on how they use your site and how best to give them the resources they need.

21st century help
This generation of students was born and bred to the Web, and many students prefer to do all their business there. Take advantage of their savvy, and make them a part of your website automation process. Gather their feedback on website features and then reflect that feedback in improvements or new services. To make sure your website investment pays off, be sure to explore what other schools offer and do some statistical analysis of your website’s most popular resources. This kind of research can form a basis for any services you offer in the future as well as innovations to current content.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alabama State Report

Submitted by Sharon Williams, AASFAA President

AASFAA held the 2012-2013 Transition Board Meeting on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama June 15, 2012. 

We will continue to hold a one-day drive-in workshop for our AASFAA members in the fall.  Our fall workshop will be held November 16, 2012 on the campus of Auburn University, in Montgomery.  We will have a federal trainer on site and have asked the AASFAA membership to suggest topics that are most baffling to them. 

The 2013 AASFAA Spring conference will again be held at Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Alabama, April 9-12, 2013.   This will be the 4th year to hold the conference at this location.  We will continue to get the comparable room rates each year at Lake Guntersville if we choose to hold the conference at the Lodge. 

There were several items discussed at the Budget Committee meeting for the 2012-2013 year.  There will be no increase in annual membership dues. All registrations for conferences and workshops will be online. 

During my term as President, along with our membership chair, my goal is to increase our membership numbers, and encourage members to get plugged in and volunteer.  Also, I want to increase membership among previous members who have not been active in some time. I believe this will be an encouragement to new associates.  We will continue to ask Committee Chairs to reach out and ask “new” members to co-chair with them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2013 SASFAA NAOW Site Selection

Greetings SASFAA Members,

Site selection proposals for the 2013 SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshop are currently being accepted.  The proposed date for the workshop is June 15 – 21, 2013.  The workshop is 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 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. 

If your institution is interested in being a site for this superb event please complete and return the proposal to me by Wednesday, October 1, 2012.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me by email at reynom2@auburn.edu or by phone at 334-844-2527.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Submitted by Michael C. Reynolds,  SASFAA Vice-President 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Site Selection Report

How SASFAA Chooses a Meeting Venue

Conference attendees are always asking – how do you choose a conference location? Many considerations are taken into account. A few are listed below.

 Does the venue fit the associations image?
 Does it give the correct impression?
 Will it appeal to the association members?

 Is the venue easily accessible to those attending?
 Does the location have close proximity to restaurants for dining on out on your own?
 Is the meeting location a safe area.

 Is the venue available on the dates required?
 Are any extras amenities being offered to secure the contract?

 Is the seating capacity suitable?
 Are the meeting rooms large enough to provide a comfortable experience for those attending?
 Are the meeting rooms well laid out?
 Does the venue allow attendees to move around without bottlenecks and delays?

 Can the venue meet the AV requirements?
 Does the venue offer a business center?
 Can specific dietary requirements for members be met?
 Does the venue have enough parking spaces?
 Are the rooms well ventilated and temperature controlled?
 Will disabled members needs be met?

 Does the venue fall within the budget for this meeting?
 Is the room rate reasonable?
 Are the AV and internet costs reasonable?
 Are the food and beverage costs reasonable?
 Are there hidden costs?
 When is payment required?
 What is the cancellation policy?

A lot of factors are looked at! SASFAA wants to get the most out of the meeting venue.

Submitted by Tracy Misner, Site Selection Committee Chair