New Year – New Blogs by Melissa Findley

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Good afternoon MASFAP!

We will soon be ramping up our blogging again in 2016 as another form of MASFAP communication! So, in thinking about the MASFAP Blog I wanted to pose a question to all of you who have joined the blog: What do you like about the blog and/or how can we better utilize it?

The 2016 MASFAP Board meets next week and each member of the board will be asked to submit a blog certain months in 2016. I want to also make sure all MASFAP members know they can post blogs by emailing me. Since it’s ideal to just have a few administrators who can post blogs, I will be posting most of the blogs, however, anyone that has joined the blog can add a comment. I encourage MAFSAP members to use this as a resource to ask questions and communicate in an informal way to your MASFAP colleagues.

Examples of blogs:

  • You have an informal question you would like to pose to the group to get feedback
  • You have something on your mind – really just a short informal thought that you want to share will colleagues
  • You want to start a conversation for others to post comments and have input, consider starting a blog
  • You have an update like a MASFAP experience, committee update, or thoughts on a MASFAP event – consider blogging
  • What are some examples you can think of to blog versus use the listserv? Please share your thoughts by adding a comment!

Thanks for reading – and consider blogging in 2016! Stay warm!

Melissa Findley

2016 Communications Committee (an Ad Hoc MASFAP committee)

ONE MONTH FROM TODAY! By Kim Howe

Fall is here and so starts the conference circuit for financial aid and higher education professionals. Be sure to plan to attend the best one – the MASFAP Conference! What a nice, local chance to get yourself and staff out of the office to learn and meet other professionals within the state. The MASFAP Conference, which is November 9th-11th, will be on the lovely premises of the Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake of the Ozarks.  The Lodge announced in January that it will be going through some property renovations as well as lodging and space updates. In early summer I saw some of the changes first hand, it is exciting and beautiful to see the renovations coming along.

 Before I was MASFAP’s site chair, I hadn’t really realized all that our colleagues do to provide the excellent conference and special events throughout the year. The people who have led and are leading this association go above and beyond the call of duty as volunteers. I feel I can truly advocate for this association and all the benefits it provides because of what I see. Also, I’m forever indebted to those who guided me from the “rookie” stages of my career to those who continue to allow me to be a recipient of their knowledge and their experiences.  So before you decide to only follow Twitter, just log on to a webinar, only read articles instead of attending events in-person, I suggest you rethink what you are missing! Take it from a 15-year professional “rookie” who continues to grow and learn as this industry continues to grow and give, you don’t want to miss “IT”.   

Hope to see you at the LAKE – one month from TODAY!

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A Brave New World in 2017-18 By Zach Greenlee

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Paradigm shift (noun) – a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.

What better characterizes the changes to the FAFSA that are little more than a year away? President Obama, today, announced two crucial changes to the FAFSA process that not only changes the approach students have to the college search process, but also drastically changes the approach schools and governments will have to awarding students. The underlying assumptions I have about government’s willingness to make meaningful simplifications to applying for aid are out the window. What are these changes that are so earth shattering to the world of college financial aid?

  • Starting with the 2017-18 FAFSA, students will now be able to file three months earlier on October 1, 2016.
  • The tax year they will use to file the 2017-18 FAFSA will be the 2015 tax year.

Two words to summarize these changes: ease and accuracy. Students will find the process of filing a FAFSA easier to complete and they will have access to more accurate estimations of their aid upon completion of the FAFSA. Read more about the benefits of this major change in NASFAA’s Press Release.

Of course there are uncertainties surrounding some processes that have occupied so much of our time and diverted so many of our resources. What will become of the verification process? It stands to reason that the recent announcement ending ED’s Quality Assurance program signals a vital change to the approach of verifying student information. Also, many have been quick to conclude the move to prior-prior year (PPY) will increase the volume of professional judgment requests.

Let us count this major victory as the first of many in our fights to improve college access and help students make informed decisions about their education. Our work is set out before us. In this next year, we must prepare students and families for these changes so they are able to take full advantage of earlier filing. We must educate our administrations and colleagues on the barriers we will face in processing these applications sooner. To these ends, we have outlined a few resources below.

For Students:

For FAA’s

The White House’s Fact Sheet – for the general public

We all have a role to play, so we encourage your institution’s leadership to sign-on to NASFAA’s Prior-Prior Year Commitment and agree to align their institutional aid applications with PPY data in 2017-18.

The world of financial aid as we know it has certainly changed. Let us be hopeful that this is the first of many changes in bringing about a new paradigm in the Department of Education’s efforts. Congress, too, has a role to play in supporting these efforts, so finally, consider contacting your representatives to let them know they can sustain this momentum by putting their energies into reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

Pres. Obama

Breathe. Notice. Enjoy! By CortneyJo Sandidge

 

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Ever gotten up early on a Saturday morning with an errand to run and found yourself in your parking spot at work? Ha! Well, maybe you haven’t made it all the way to work, but you were close when you remembered it was Saturday. What helped you to remember was the commute seemed quicker than normal as the streets had less traffic and you were beating your normal time. Finally when it dawned on you it was Saturday, you cracked up, shook your head, turned your car around and headed toward your original destination. Yep, this can happen sometimes, we get so used to our daily routine that we are on auto pilot, and we find ourselves just driving.

The work we do every day in Financial Aid is important! We are meeting with students and their families, answering phone calls, responding to e-mails, working reports, training, prepping for a presentation, etc. There may even be times when we stay late just to finish it all or get to a good stopping point. And yes, on these days we may feel it’s a lot, but at the end of the day, we know it is all worth it. Yes, our students are worth it. But guess what? You are too!

It is equally important that we are taking care of ourselves and I’m not just talking about the obvious things, eating right, sleeping, exercising, etc. But taking the time to just B.R.E.A.T.H.E, be present in the moment and aware of our surroundings. During your next early morning commute (actually to work this time, haha) allow yourself notice the beautiful scenery along the drive. Try not to think about the workday of ahead of you, because it will be there waiting for you when you get there, trust me. Breathe. Notice. Enjoy! These three things will make for a good start to your workday.

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