What does August mean to us? By Charles Mayfield

How does one go about preparing and organizing thoughts on what the month of August means for our industry? I feel like I ask myself that question in some way, shape or form in late spring or early summer each year. A self-reminder that we’re not in this alone for some reason comforts me. Knowing there are so many others making the same grinding trudge through late summer and early fall can be somewhat reassuring… in an odd kind of way.

As always, this year brings a few new twists and turns that we must account for and adjust to on the fly.   We’ve come to see these changes as normal, and I forget how quickly we adapt to the many changes and then, just as quickly, move on to whatever’s next. In the last 8 or so months, a couple of big items seemed to be bubbling up such as the doubling of verification selections and the first full year of 150% Pell. By now, those items might be in the rearview for you and now we’re on to addressing other items. Our ability as an industry to learn, unlearn, and relearn can be uncannily amazing. These experiences this year are but a few examples… and there are so many we can think of from past years, and we can only guess to what is ahead for us! Kudos to each of you who see this as your “normal”, for all you do and how you do it!!

Our office had the “opportunity” to experience and plan for a nearly five-month delay in the finalizing of tuition rates for the 2018-19 academic year; rates were finalized in late June, rather than the typical timeframe of mid-March. This means we have done our best to cram several months of activity and work into a slim window of just a few weeks. With the bulk of that work just recently completed, this generated the bit of time I needed to share these thoughts with those friends and fellow colleagues out there.

While I haven’t been much of a blogger in my life to-date, I did find the thought of putting August-related thoughts into words a weirdly refreshing kind of idea. So often this time of the year, I seem to struggle finding time, or making time, for self-care or using a lunch break as intended… a time to disconnect, recharge, eliminate “brain-fog” to spring board into the second half of the day with an energized and creative mindset.

I appreciate the opportunity and platform our MASFAP Blog has provided me (us) to share these kinds of thoughts. Through the course of my writing today, I’ve decided (maybe for this year) I’ll switch up my approach to the internal August-readiness litmus test. Rather than my typical “am I ready for August” approach, I’ll ask “August, are you ready for me/us/our industry?!?” I might just steamroll right into August, whether it’s ready or not.

Thanks for taking the time to peruse the randomness of my thoughts in this moment.

Charles (Buddy) Mayfield is a MASFAP Delegate and a friend, a colleague, a guy who sometime asks you lots of work-related questions

Taking Washington by Storm By Kayla Klein

When I applied to be a part of the MASFAP Leadership Development program I knew that a trip to Washington was part of the program. However, I did not realize how much this trip would change my passion for financial aid advocacy. The “Fab Five” (as Amy calls us) planned the trip for months. We did research on the legislators, we learned from each other, we met to discuss how the trip would go, and then it was here.

On Sunday, June 10, we boarded a plane, and we were off for a whirlwind 3 days. As the plane took off, the excitement set in… and so did the nerves. The first day, Sunday, was packed full with sightseeing (such as taking in the amazement of Arlington National Cemetery) and planning for the next day. Then, Monday was the day that we would put all of our hard work into action!

On Monday, as I got ready the nerves were in full swing, and it was amazing an adrenalin rush… and I did not even have to actually lead the meeting. We sat with Jordan Cox of Representative Hartzler office and he listened, he was engaged, asked questions, and paid attention to what our group had to say. It was an amazing experience and honestly in that moment I realized I could make a difference. Collectively we can make an even bigger difference.

On Tuesday, it was my turn to lead the last meeting of the day. We met with Emma Kay from Senator McCaskill’s office. I gave the presentation on the MASFAP legislative priorities, talked about all the items that we needed to touch on, and we walked out of the office with a new contact. We are making contacts in D.C. and it is exciting!

It was a remarkable three days that flew by and I learned so much. I learned I can make a difference, that our voices matter, and that all of us should #Fight4FinAid. I would recommend that if you have ever even had a tiny thought to sign up for MASFAP’s Leadership Development Program that you should do it! And you should leap at the chance. You will find your voice and place in the fight for your students.

Kayla Klein is MASFAP’s Early Awareness Committee Chair