Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Opportunities and Challenges



Please share the following resources to your Military Connected Students:

Set your Sights on Success Visit Tutor.Com https://military.tutor.com/home

Mentoring Program: American Corporate Partners (ACP) Free Mentoring Program: For Veterans and Spouses https://www.acp-usa.org/mentoring-program/program-overview


Army Emergency Relief Dependent Childrenhttps://www.aerhq.org/Apply-for-Scholarship/Dependent-Children
Army Emergency Relief Spouse Education Assistance Program:

Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA):

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Scholarships:  https://www.vfw.org/assistance/student-veterans-support   

Accenture Student Veterans Scholarship

Pat Tillman Scholar: http://pattillmanfoundation.org/apply-to-be-a-scholar/ Open to veteran and active-duty military members in all branches of service, including the Coast Guard, as well as their spouses

Open to all current and former service members who wish to become teachers in a K-12 setting

Field of Honor Scholarship: https://www.foldsofhonor.org/resources/scholarships/

Wings Over America: https://wingsoveramerica.us/scholarships For children and spouses of all U.S. Navy personnel

SVAs Leadership Institute, sponsored by Prudential, is the premier training for student veterans who are emerging leaders in their chapter, on their campus, and in their community.

Kamesia M. House
2018-19 Global Issues Committee

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Choosing to Serve

Serving as Leaders

The Nominations and Elections Committee is pleased to present the slate of candidates for SASFAA’s upcoming election.  Special thanks to members who submitted nominations and to those who are willing to serve in a leadership capacity.  SASFAA continues leading as a vibrant organization due to the dedication and involvement of wonderful volunteers.

Candidates for Election
President-Elect          Nancy Tate and Celena Tulloss
Vice President           Joan Bailey and April Tretter

Additional information, including resumes and candidacy statements, will be provided at a later date.  Voting opens Saturday, February 9, 2019, and closes Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at 3 pm eastern time.

Thank you again to everyone who volunteered.

Sharon Oliver
2018-19 Nominations and Election Chair

Serving as Community

- helping, doing something for others, kindness

Hospitality - warm reception, helpful, welcoming to visitors, guests & strangers alike

As we embrace the beauty of fall and reminisce on memorable moments of summer, I hope each of you will remember to take a moment to enjoy the little things in life that evolve into something beautiful.  Our daily encounters with with people from different walks of life really takes special people like YOU to perform the duties of our profession.  We are "game changers" who bridge many gaps in making College a reality... that's who we are!

Our lives are filled with opportunities for Service & Hospitality.  I hope each of you will take time to share these unique qualities with colleagues in your office or campus.  Choose a day(s) to do your "Random Acts of Kindness & Love."  Here are some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!
  • Share a small bag of candy, or a candy bar with someone who may be in need or doesn't have access to the simple things in life
  • Make a donation, or do something helpful to make life a little easier for a cancer patient, or caregiver
  • Stand up for victims of domestic violence by volunteering at a shelter, or spreading the word of resources available to victims
  • Bake cookies, and give to random people who cross your path, or workers in a business that you frequent
  • Adopt a shelter pet, or coordinate a food or blanket and towel drive
We're unique & special in our own way but the work we do makes us all ONE.
Let's "Celebrate You, Celebrate Me, Celebrate US and SMILE
(See Me In Love Embrace me for who I am)."

Regina Gilbert
2018-19 Global Issues Committee
(TASFAA Global Issues Chair)

Serving in Difficult Times

A View from the Storm

To say October was a blur is an understatement!

On Sunday, September 30 I left for our computer conference.  On October 5, I flew from there to the SASFAA Executive Board Meeting in Knoxville.  Saturday night, October 6 I flew back to Tallahassee, FL around 11:30 p.m.  The next day we went to church, there was no mention of a storm.  Sunday night we went to our local Publix only to find that the shelves were nearly empty of basic items such as bread, water, canned goods.  As we approached the checkout counter the person in front of us said “Isn’t it amazing how fast the storm has grown?”  My wife and I responded by saying “What storm?”  Only then did we learn that a hurricane was forming in the Gulf.

On Monday, I listened to the weather projections.  The storm would hit the Florida Gulf Coast as a category 1 storm.  No big deal.  We have seen those before.  By mid-morning we were looking at the possibility of a category 3 storm with a projected path over Tallahassee.  Now I am begging to pay attention! 

About the same time I learned that our College emergency team was meeting.  We waited to see what action they would take before the storm.  To our surprise, they closed the College for the rest of the week and asked that no one return to campus until the following Monday. Hearing this only heightened my concern.  What did they know that had not been made public?  Were there anticipated issues we didn’t know about?

By Monday night it was projected that the storm would reach category 3 or higher.  Now I am really concerned!  I spent Tuesday making preparations for the storm.  All items outside had to be brought inside, and those that couldn’t be had to be fastened down.  The day was filled with activity.

Wednesday morning brought more bad news.  Now the storm was predicted to be category 4, or higher.  Regardless of where the storm came ashore we were in for a rough time.  By noon Tallahassee was a ghost town.  The winds were picking up, and with them, rumors of a category 5 storm swirled.  While we had light rain earlier in the day,  around 3:00 the real storm bands arrived.  We lost electricity about 4:30.  The winds were howling, and all we could do was sit and ride out the storm.  Around 5:00 I stepped out on my front porch to see what damage had occurred in my neighborhood.  As I looked around I heard a loud thud, a large hickory tree in our yard had fallen.  It missed our house, but crushed our neighbor's fence and missed his house by only inches.  Around 6:00 the storm passed.  We sat quietly in the dark.

Thursday morning I was up early, dressed, and outside to fully reviewing the storm damage.  Fortunately, our damage was limited to the tree, but the yard was a mess.  Around 8:30, I drove around downed trees and debris, in an attempt to find breakfast.  As I reached the main road I saw unbelievable damage.  Trees down, power lines down, trees across power lines, roads closed, buildings damaged.  Wow!  My heart broke for those who experienced the catastrophic damage. 

By afternoon we were out looking for a generator.  Only stores with generators were open, but we found one at Lowes.  Now, the quest for gas started, and we were fortunate enough to find all the gas we needed. Others were not so fortunate.

On Friday, cleanup started.  My wife, Terrie, and I worked in the yard all day and had to hire a tree service to remove the downed tree.  The day seemed to never end.  Still no power!! 

At this point I had to make a decision.  I was scheduled to attend the Mid-Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators as part of the regional exchange as President-Elect of SASFAA.  No power, limited cell phone service, debris all over my yard.  I had to make a decision I never wanted to make – I could not attend MASFAA.  I was truly disappointed as it was an event I had looked forward to for weeks.  At that point I informed President Erslan I could not attend.  In addition I had to call Delta as I wouldn’t use my ticket.  Delta was gracious and gave me full credit for the ticket.

After a couple weeks, Tallahassee Community College returned to normal operations.  The same is not true for our schools to the west inclusive of Chipola State College, Gulf Coast State College, and FSU Panama City.  All received significant damage.

By now many of you are asking “What does this have to do with SASFAA?”  Well, I am glad you asked.  Below are some of the things I learned.

One of the hallmarks of SASFAA is our collegiality.  Through the storm and into this week I have received multiple text messages, calls, and emails inquiring about my safety and asking if I needed anything.  The offers included lodging as needed. In crisis your SASFAA friends stand with you through the storm.

Another lesson I learned is that in difficult times hard decisions have to be made.  I didn’t want to abandon my trip to MASFAA, but it was necessary.  There will be times for SASFAA when we will have to make hard to decisions to keep the association strong.  Our leaders and members must be willing to make those hard decisions.

Finally, and I think the most important thing, I learned that it isn’t about things, it is about people.  In SASFAA our greatest strength is our membership.  You are why we exist, and where our focus must continually strive to make sure what we do serves the membership. 

I am so proud of our profession and our SASFAA membership.  Because of you our view from the storm is truly one of hope.

Those of us who have lived through Hurricane Michael thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support.

Bill Spiers
2018-19SASFAA President-Elect

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Members, with benefits!


It is a pleasure to serve this year as 2018-2019 Membership Chair!  

I'm Wayne Kruger, Executive Director of Financial Aid Operations at St. Petersburg College.  I most recently served SASFAA on the Executive Board as Secretary.    In this blog post I want to give you some ideas of how you can enjoy some of the many benefits of your SASFAA membership.
As your Membership Chair, I am here to help you with the following membership benefits: 
  • ·         Would you like a membership certificate sent to you for this year?
  • ·         Are you are locked out of the SASFAA site and the unlock features are not working.
  • ·         Having issues with your Membership Renewal or have multiple accounts that need to be combined?
  • ·         Having an issue registering for an event?
  • ·         Hoping to get in touch with someone on our SASFAA Board about volunteer opportunities or need answers to other general questions you’re not finding the answer for.

For help with any of these areas, please feel free to email me at kruger.wayne@spcollege.edu and I will be happy to help you!

There are many benefits of being a SASFAA member.  While many of our website benefits are currently open to all SASFAA members (past and current), as the year goes on some website benefits may be available to paid members only. 

Being a SASFAA member allows you to get our Federal updates, Federal trainer, Dave Bartnicki's popular Bartnicki Bulletins, access to Training Webinars (we plan to offer more this year), and  SASFAA job postings and forums.  We are very proud of our in person trainings like the New Aid Officer Worship, the Management Symposium, Pre-conference workshops, and our Annual Conference.  

Please help support professional development for yourself and others be renewing your SASFAA membership today.

*Does your office want to renew everyone at once, or pay with one check? 

I am happy to help facilitate one group payment for your institution and we can email all your schools individual invoices to your billing/accounts person.  They can then list all the invoice numbers on one check for payment of all those in your office.

NOTE: If you are paying online via Credit Card or PayPal,  you will only be able to pay for one individual membership at a time. 

Looking forward to having a wonderful and successful year, and seeing you at upcoming events.  

Wayne Kruger
2018-2019 Membership Chair

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Happy New Year!

July 1 was the first day of SASFAA's new operating year.  Your new President and Executive Board has already been hard at work to lay the foundation for a productive and successful year full of valuable professional development opportunities and networking with colleagues from the southern region.

Welcome to the 2018-19 Year for SASFAA

As President of SASFAA, I welcome you to 2018-19.  Please know that the SASFAA Executive Board and Committee Chairs will be working for the entire SASFAA Membership all year.   The theme for this year is Fulfilling Dreams: Helping Students and the Financial Aid Community Achieve Greatness.  I know we cannot always make this happen for students, but so many times we are able to help students make their educational dreams attainable by the financial aid and services we provide to and for them throughout their entire career.   SASFAA helps the Financial Aid Community achieve greatness through all of the outstanding training and networking opportunities we offer each year, as well as just being there for each other.  Higher Education is going through some trying times right now, and all of us in financial aid need to support one another to continue to be successful aid administrators!  So, make a point this year to give a colleague at another institution a pat on the back, an inspirational quote, or just a kind word from time to time to brighten the day of an FAA. 

If you were a member of SASFAA in 2017-18, those benefits ended on July 15, 2018, so don’t delay, renew your SASFAA Membership today for the 2018-19 year.  We are going to have another great year, from a Management Institute this fall in Knoxville, TN to a Leadership Symposium prior to the 2019 Annual Conference to be held in Atlanta, GA at the Grand Hyatt Regency in the Buckhead area of the city.  Of course, we will also be offering Webinars throughout the year and to conclude the year we will have the SASFAA annual New Aid Officers Workshop to be held again at Wofford College, in Spartanburg, SC! 

Please renew your membership today.  If you have any questions, concerns or ideas, please email me at bryan.erslan@eku.edu.  Have a great rest of the summer, and look for all of the SASFAA Announcements throughout the year!  

Bryan P. Erslan
SASFAA President 2018-19

Role of SASFAA President

Each month in the SASFAA Blog, we highlight a couple positions on the board.  So, July is the month we look at my position.  First of all, please let me say that it is such an honor to be elected SASFAA President and serve in this role.  What an amazing association we have in SASFAA!   Our members are some of the most active and recognized colleagues you will find in the financial aid industry.  When I agreed to have my name on the ballot, and then was actually voted president, well, it has been a very humbling experience to say the least.  I am so glad to see that the person I ran against, decided to run the following year for president and is following me and will serve in the role of President Elect this year.  Congratulations Bill, I look forward to continued work with you the next couple of years!  I have seen many outstanding leaders in the financial aid industry serve in this role over the years.   My hope is to continue what SASFAA has been able to offer to our members, strong training events, advocacy at the federal level working closely with NASFAA and finally supporting each of the nine SASFAA states and their members by sharing ideas, time, training and really just getting to know the membership. 

In terms of the board meetings, my role is to facilitate discussion around the many issues, concerns, ideas and such that are brought forth through the board meetings.  I am to remain impartial and make sure both sides are heard equally, so that the Executive Board can make the best decision possible when votes are required.  You can find a list of all of our board meetings and locations on the SAFSAA website.

I can already tell that this year is going to go by at a very rapid pace and not everything that I hope to accomplish will be completed.  However, I am really excited about the training events that we are going to have this year.  Thanks to Celena Tullos and the Professional Advancement  Committee, there are numerous events throughout the year.   Dave Gelinas and Celena Tulloss are hard at work putting together the Management Institute that will be held in Knoxville, TN, October 8-9, 2018.  We are going to have some outstanding speakers and it is going to be a great opportunity for leaders in your office to enhance their management skills.  Also, if you know of an up and coming leader in your office or state, one of the pre-conference workshops next February will be a Leadership Symposium which will begin on the Saturday prior to the conference.  Katie Harrison and her conference committee met last weekend at the site of the 2019 Annual SASFAA Conference, the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, GA, located in the Buckhead area of the city.  The conference will be held on February 17-20, 2019 so please mark your calendar and plan to attend.  As you know and have come to expect, we will have another outstanding SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshop (NAOW).   The workshop will return to Wofford College, in Spartanburg, SC June 2-7, 2019.  Celena and the entire NAOW staff will work hard to ensure another tremendously successful week.    Finally, keep an eye out for SASFAA webinars, which will be offered at different times throughout the year. 

As President, keeping all the balls in the air is quite the task, but that is why we have the Executive Board and Committee Chairs.   I am already depending on them so much and I know that over 90% of the work that gets done is because of each of them.   I would like to thank each one of them for their willingness to step up and serve SASFAA.  Many have served before, but for some this is the first go round, either as a Committee Chair or an elected position, be it a state president or one of the elected positions in SASFAA.   I look forward to working with you all this year. 

Finally, as I said initially, what we do as an Executive Board is about you all, the membership.  So, please share an idea, suggestion or just a note and let us know what is important to you.   Again, thank you for allowing me to serve this outstanding association and hopefully I will be seeing you at your state conference, or the annual conference in February!

Bryan P. Erslan
SASFAA President 2018-19

Friday, April 13, 2018

'Tis the Season to Reflect, Plan, and Volunteer!


Lessons of The Heart….

February is the month of love. The one date most people circle and prepare for, is February 14th - Valentine’s Day. It is estimated that $18.2 billion is spent just for Valentine’s Day, a day when love is typically depicted by a heart. The heart is significant as it is a vital piece of our anatomy. A heart is defined as a hollow, muscular organ that pumps blood through the circulatory system by rhythmic contraction and dilation. Valentine’s Day is not the only day in February that is dedicated to the heart.

February was also Heart Health Month.  February 3, Wear RED Day raises awareness of women's heart health. What is heart disease and why is that important? Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect the overall health of your heart. The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with the term "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. Did you carry forward from February a plan to protect your own heart health?  It's not too late to make healthy choices for now and the future.

When I reflect, I see that my once active lifestyle has ended and a new, sedentary lifestyle has begun. I see that food choices made when I was in my twenties no longer work for me in my forties. I see that I make time for almost everything except daily exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block with the dog. Sound familiar? You are not alone. As a financial aid community we assist one another immediately with the ever changing rules and regulations of financial aid. I think it is time that we use that same energy to promote a healthy lifestyle in our offices and our financial aid community.

Many forms of heart disease can be prevented with healthy life style choices. Take the time to create a group at work. Groups can keep each other accountable. Start a walk, run, or bike after work club. Take one day each month to showcase heart healthy recipes at an office breakfast or luncheon. To help get you started, here's a heart healthy breakfast idea that can prepared at home and taken on the go.

Banana Nut Baked Oatmeal

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal boasts the delicious flavor of banana bread, but it's made with wholesome oats, pecans, and coconut oil for a healthy, filling breakfast!
½ cup pecans, chopped (plus additional for garnish)
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large or 3 medium bananas)
3/4 cup milk (or almond milk, or another dairy-free milk)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, melted and slightly cooled 
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray an 8-inch square baking dish.  Spread chopped pecans on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 4 to 6 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown. Set aside to cool on baking sheet.  Add the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the milk, banana, egg, oil, and vanilla. Slowly pour in the melted syrup, whisking constantly.  Add the oat mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer to the greased baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Sprinkle the toasted nuts on top of the baked oatmeal and cool slightly before serving.  Yields 6 servings

Take a moment and verify that you are moving forward with a healthy heart.  Create a transcript of the activities and healthy choices that you are making.  Award yourself after making healthy lifestyle changes.  Chose not to return back to your old ways, as they will no longer be satisfactory.

Get involved and get active!

Sean Johnson

SASFAA Global Issues Committee
FASFAA Global Issues Chair

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Looking In, Looking Out, Reaching Out

Looking In

Let’s Talk About Judging….

Have you ever personally judged people just by looking at them?  It is something that you may not try to do intentionally, or may never want to do.  It is also something that you won’t do in a person’s face unless they push you to the limit by invading your personal space.  Judging happens across many lines.    

In today’s world of social media, we all may notice the consciousness that organizations take to make us aware of how diverse we are as people.  I take the time after a day of work to relax.  I log onto my Facebook page just to see and read what is posted.   I scrolled my feed and happened across a post by CUT that talks about judging. It was very interesting.   

Do you ever label people?
Would you participate in guessing the sexual orientation of strangers?

It is interesting to see that the participants were nervous about their specific choice for each of the strangers that came before them.  In the video, participants asked each person certain questions to determine a label from a set of cards provided by the video makers.  The questions varied, but were about dress, haircut, personality, what they liked, how the person danced, or just the fact that one had a cell phone clipped to the belt.  It is interesting to see how each guessing participant labeled a person.
At the end of the video, true orientations are revealed and participants see if they guessed correctly.  The participants were surprised that they guessed some wrong.  One participant states that his friend/co-worker dresses like one of the volunteers, but he did not want to assume based on clothing.  Another participant states that she stereotyped when making her choices.  One states that she has a lot to learn about different communities.

In our campuses today, we deal with –isms, xenophobia and cultural differences daily.  We all must realize that awareness is important, so that we don’t judge wrong. 

Have a great semester everyone! 

Lloyd E. Dixon

Global Issues Committee 

Looking Out

Service  Beyond Our Walls

Greetings SASFAA Family,

AASFAA has been quite busy the last few months but we have finally made it over the Fall hump. I am incredibly honored to serve as the 2017-2018 AASFAA president during the celebration of its 50th anniversary! The theme for our 50th Anniversary is “The Golden Age of AASFAA”, celebrating 50 years of serving Alabama’s students. The AASFAA executive committee and its various committee chairs are excitingly working to provide a memorable and enjoyable conference for the AASFAA family.

As we prepare for the 50th Anniversary, I am reminded of the service and commitment that our association provides to our students beyond our profession and the importance of servant leadership. We serve our students daily with a dedication to making their lives better through education. Our positions are linked to service for others. I want everyone to reflect on how you serve students and promote excellence in the financial aid office by building a positive culture that encourages professionalism within the office, integrity among all, and diversity of ideas and people. If we stay true to the positive work that we are called to do while promoting an inclusive and respectful environment, we will not lose sight of the invaluable job we are called to do.

I implore all of you to reflect on how you serve your students, organizations, and communities. While reflecting, think of ways that you can improve your service to our students and our colleagues because we have a great impact on the lives we encounter far beyond our office walls.

Theresa Mays

2017-18 AASFAA President  

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Defining Moments

The Event

Often times we ask how someone became interested in a particular job, or got into a profession.  When I ask fellow financial aid experts how they came to financial aid, they often say that they just “fell into it.”  Many of us were work-study or graduate students in a financial aid office and stuck with it after graduation.  No matter how we came into financial aid, there almost always seems to be that one event or student that helped solidify our love for this noble profession.  We love our jobs because we make a difference to our students and schools, despite the lack of credit for the work we do.

I came into financial aid in 2001 as a graduate student in the Office of Financial Aid at the University of South Florida.  At first it was all fun, seeing behind the scenes and workings of college financial aid, awarding students, and talking them through regulations as a peer.  Then came the day when I moved to a full time position.  That first year as a full time financial aid professional is like spring training in baseball, only it is a year in length.

I always say it takes a year in financial aid before you really get a good understanding of how things work.  It’s during that first year that many of us begin to wonder if financial aid was the right choice.  We deal with the first of many irate students and helicopter parents, read several heart-breaking SAP appeals, and wonder if this is something we can do for the next “x” years.  We may suddenly realize we are doing seven jobs at once, or that staff from other departments do not seem to be as pressured, deadline driven, or accountable as financial aid staff.  But there is always that one moment when it becomes clear that it was the right choice, despite the issues we face there are numerous other students we never had to see - because they got everything they needed.  Those students were in class, pursuing their dreams of a higher education, and you were a part of that success.

For me that moment occurred toward the end of my first year as a Financial Aid Counselor.  Due to USF’s size, we would sometimes encourage students to assist themselves.  We would often get requests for letters of proof of aid awards.  Students would use these for rental agreements, car purchases, etc.; however, in most cases students were directed to log into their self-service and simply print off their awards to use as proof.  In most cases this would work and be accepted.  It was the one time it didn’t that left an impression on me. That memory is something I carry with me to this day.

You know that student, the one that seems to come into your office every day to check his aid status for the 30th time?  Well, that student came into the office one day; in fact it was his second trip into the office.  He was told to log in and print off his award notice, just as hundreds of students before him were instructed.  I overheard him try to explain that his application specifically asked for a signed statement.  When I asked him what kind of application, the student explained that he was applying for a special program for first time home buyers.  Impressed that a college student was looking to buy a house I took him back to my office to learn more.

During our chat I learned that in his scholarship searches he came across some programs for first time home owners, and just didn’t have enough verifiable income without including his financial aid.  Because of the nature of the program, he needed more than just a print out, so I made the time to help him write a letter that would present him in the best light to receive a mortgage.  If he came to the FA office every day to check on things, I knew he would be the kind of homeowner that would keep track of his finances and would be as successful in home ownership as he was as a student.  The next week he came in to check on his financial aid as unusual.  I had almost forgotten about the letter and our conversation, until he handed me a letter.  You see, what took maybe 10 minutes out of my day not only affected this student and his dreams of higher education, it affected his life in ways I hadn’t thought about when I decided to write that letter.  My words don’t do it justice so I will let his words show you:

Not only was he the first in his family to graduate from college, but the first to own a home.  To this day I have that letter in my desk drawer, to remind me on the bad days that I got into financial aid because I love working on behalf of students.  Being just a small part of their success is worth all the bad days, irate students, helicopter parents and regulation changes combined.

Wayne Kruger

SASFAA Secretary