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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”.   

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A Brave New World in 2017-18 By Zach Greenlee

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?

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We’re Getting Fancy Folks… By Kristen Gibbs

Starting in June of 2015, MASFAP has started taking advantage of online bill pay options through our bank. We started off experimenting with reimbursements for expenses to members to see if the process would work well, and it has. We are able to use these online options for paying venders and for reimbursing individuals for organizational expenses.

So what does this mean for the organization? There are lots of benefits! It has reduced the costs associated with paying bills. We no longer have to pay for stamps, envelopes, and paper checks, and online bill pay is free! It reduces time requirements for budget and finance committee members by taking just seconds to set up a payee, and once the payee information is entered into bill pay, it is easy to make payment. No one has to make time to write out several checks, which means we are able to make payments timelier. And finally, we have reduced some of our financial risk. No one is carting around a large binder with lots of checks at risk of being lost or stolen.

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Breathe. Notice. Enjoy! By CortneyJo Sandidge

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!

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Techno Talk By Bridgette Betz

Greetings MASFAPians!

I hope your first week or two of classes are going well and that the lines are short! I have been knocking on wood all week because our first week seems to be relatively smooth.

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Because You Work in Financial Aid By Kathy Elsea

Have you been yelled at today? Have you brought anyone to tears? But have you also been thanked by someone? If yes, then you must be working in a financial aid office and it is the beginning of the school year!

I just wanted to send my MASFAP colleagues a note to make sure you know that others are feeling the same way you are this week. We are in this together, and hope you have had minimal yelling, few tears and many thank yous in your office today.

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Stock Market Tips = Financial Aid Tips By John Brandt

Greetings MASFAP.

I recently read some stock market volatility tips, and I realized that these same tips can also be tips for financial aid professionals.

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Constitution Day is Around the Corner By Margie Schwent


Constitution Day is just around the corner on September 17, 2015. I was wondering if any MASFAP members have quizzes, information or suggestions for Constitution Day?  The Student Council/Student Government sponsors have been asking, and in the past MASFAP members have had some helpful ideas or suggestions. Please comment on this blog or feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. Thank you in advance for your input!

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Inaugural Leadership Development Class by Laura Steinbeck

The inaugural Leadership Development class is half way through its first year and I’m pleased to announce that several of our participants are already actively pursuing MASFAP leadership positions.  The most recent MASFAP Election ballot included four of our participants – Daniel Dick – Saint Louis University, Caroline Falkner – Avila University, Bridgette Betz – Missouri University Science & Technology, and Jamie Davis – Columbia College.  Congratulations to each of you for taking the step to become more involved in our association and congrats to Daniel for being elected Vice President!

One of the main components of the Leadership Development program is a class project.  The 2015 class participants are finalizing plans for several events/sessions to be conducted at our annual conference in November.  They are really setting the bar high for future class participants!

How to Conference by Matthew Kearney

For many of you, going to conferences may not be a common occurrence, or perhaps the Fall 2015 MASFAP conference will be your first, so as you prepare to go on your voyage, here are nine things to keep in mind to make the conference the best experience for you.  It may not work for everyone, but I know I’ve followed these tips for conferences and I believe I’ve gotten the most I could out of them.

  •  Be well rested before you get to the conference.  Conferences are all day and night affairs, so you want to be sure you don’t have any issues with nodding off during sessions or missing out on evening activities because you need more sleep.  If you want to get the most out of a conference, you will likely be burning the candle at both ends for a few days!  This leads to the second tip.
  • Don’t stay in your room right after dinner.  Getting together with colleagues in an out of the office or non-structured setting is a great opportunity to get questions answered, gain new perspectives on how to do things, or just vent your frustrations.  The sessions during the day are valuable resources and will give great insight to the field, but conversations go to a deeper level in the evening.  Use this time to also work on tip number 3.
  • Network, Network, Network.  MASFAP provides many opportunities for you to engage with individuals from across the state as well as region and national levels.  Take this opportunity to connect with others from similar and different types of schools, as well as representatives of our vendors!  You will call on many of these people as you move through your career and people are willing and able to help.
  • Don’t sit with the same people for every meal.  Sometimes you want to sit with people you know at a conference to share information that is fresh on your mind that you want to bring back to the office, but try to mix it up and meet some new people at meals.  This provides an opportunity to do number 5.
  • Share.  If this is one of your first conferences or you are new to the field, you may not have a lot to say about different topics, but as you gain more experience, start to pay back what you get from the association.  Take the opportunity to share what you do or how you see things with others at the conference.  You are a valuable piece of the organization, but it doesn’t help if you stick to yourself.  This takes us to number 6.
  • If you are not comfortable meeting new people, get to know one person who does and let them introduce you.  It is sometimes difficult to walk up to a group of people you don’t know who are clearly good friends and work your way into the conversation.  First, I’ll say you will rarely be rebuffed if you pull up a chair.  However, if it is still not in your comfort zone, try to find someone who can introduce you.  There are a lot of outgoing, fun, and caring individuals in this association who want you to grow both professionally and personally, so let them do that.
  • Be prepared.  Look at the sessions ahead of time and know which ones you want to go to.  If you are going with multiple people from your institution, don’t have everyone go to the same sessions.  Split up and share back so you can get more information for your office to have.
  • Connect with others in your office.  I’ve been telling you over and over to branch out from your office at conferences, but make some time for getting together with your staff.  Some of the best team building we’ve had for our office has happened at these conferences.  Whether it’s a mechanical bull ride or zombie run in Indianapolis, shopping for needy high school students at the lake, performing skits for MASFAP’s Got Talent, or dancing the night away, people still talk about the fun times had and has helped bring us closer together.
  • Have Fun!  Financial Aid people know how to have a good time, and some of the best laughs you will have will be with those at the conference.  There is plenty of time to talk about work, but sometimes, you just want to cut loose and not worry about being a financial aid administrator for a while.  Your MASFAP family are there for that and my hope for you is that you take advantage of this.

Share Best Practices: Online Students – By Kerry Hallahan

Hello Masfap friends…I need to know your best practices with online students.

Do you disburse aid immediately at the beginning of the term the same time you disburse aid for your on campus students? Or do you hold the online population disbursements until you know they have begun their classes?
What mechanism have you found that works in order to notify financial aid that the students have begun their classes?
Have you been able to engage others in knowing when to notify financial aid if a student stops attending classes? If so, which departments have willingly worked with you?
Please share any helpful tidbits when working with the online populations by commented to this post or email me at [email protected] – thank you!

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MASFAP Leadership Development Program Cohort

A visit with the MASFAP Leadership Development Program Cohort or Ramblings on Why I love my Professional Association By Gena Boling

On Friday, I attended the first half of the meeting of the 2015 Leadership Development Program cohort. The group has been meeting throughout the year in various locations around the state, and this past week, they were in Rolla on the campus of East Central College and I decided it was an excellent opportunity to stop in, hear and contribute to the conversation, and see how the program was running along.

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The Future is BRIGHT! By Janice Barnes

The future of MASFAP is BRIGHT! I was honored and privileged to coordinate the MASFAP Elections this year as part of the Past President duties. This is my fifth year involved in the election committee process and I can tell you from experience that having too many Masfapians eager and interested in running for an elected position is a wonderful problem to have. There have been years when the committee would spend hours on the phone trying to “convince” people to run. The eagerness and excitement of all those who ran will be one of my fondest memories of this year.

I want to congratulate and thank all members who volunteered or were nominated to run for an office. This talented group of individuals represents just 15 of the amazing financial aid and bursar colleagues that make up our organization. I am excited about what MASFAP will do in the future and am so proud to be a part of this organization, but most of all I am grateful for the relationships that come out of this organization. Trusted colleagues and friends that are only a phone call, email, text message or tweet away. We banter regulations, best practices and processes. We scour each other’s websites and “borrow” forms and ideas. We laugh till it hurts and pick each other up when we cry. What we do is not easy or sometimes reasonable or maybe even practical as federal regulations continue to mount and institutional policies continue to be made without our input, but what we do truly does matter and I wouldn’t want to do it without the support of my MASFAP colleagues.

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The MASFAP Money Challenge! By CortneyJo Sandidge, Early Awareness Committee Chair

Ready, set, CHALLENGE!! When you were 21 – 22 years of age preparing for your first year on your own financially with your first job, did you ever complete an annual budget ahead of time to plan? Well, that is what these college students did on a beautiful, sunny day this past April!

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Attention Newcomers (and Mentors) By Sara Edwards

Happy Spring and Happy Friday!! What a wonderful time to be outside…….if you can get out of the office.

It has been five months since our Fall Conference and I wanted to check in with our newcomers to see how things are going?? I am sure you are continuing to absorb all the information that is being sent your way each and every day, and finding that no two days are alike in the Financial Aid world!

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Awarding Reminder By Kathy Elsea, MASFAP Delegate

Remember the information provided in DCL GEN-15-03 (Wind-down of the Federal Perkins Loan Program) as you are awarding the Perkins Loan and communicating with students. GEN-15-03 DCL

MASFAP Membership is Invaluable By Caroline Falkner

As the 2015 Membership Chair, I get the opportunity to network with a lot of intelligent, highly motivated individuals. It has been such a rewarding experience working with MASFAP leadership. And one that I wish more people in the financial aid community had the chance to experience.

I joined MASFAP three years ago (seems like a lifetime!) as a brand new financial aid administrator. I don’t think I can overestimate the impact this organization has made in my career. I have made friends, connected with mentors, and generally engaged in conversations that I wouldn’t have the chance to otherwise.

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MASFAP Board Meeting has been called to order

The March MASFAP Board meeting is in progress today! There is great conversation happening – all for the good of this state organization! I, for one, am missing the Spring Conference this year and seeing everyone at the Lodge. Looking forward to the Fall Conference and I hear it is already shaping up to be an awesome conference.

Speaking of the fall conference, do you have any ideas for session at the fall conference? Even if it is just a little idea, please fill out the session proposal. You don’t have to complete every field on the short session proposal form, just fill out some ideas and the program committee will take it from there!

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Hill Day Recap by Zach Greenlee

The rescheduled MASFAP Hill Day in Jefferson City allowed our organization an important opportunity to speak directly with legislators on both sides of the aisle, in both the House & Senate. We had fourteen MASFAP members attend and have personal conversations meet with 12 representatives (at last count). Many appointments had to be cancelled because budget hearings were taking place, and because the General Assembly goes on their own spring break last week, they had a lot of activity keeping them from being in their offices.

We took every opportunity we could get to share with them the deep history of MASFAP, our mission, values, and friendly faces. Some of us found ourselves walking with them in the hallways between their meetings just to get two minutes to talk, and others were able to get a side alcove meeting with a representative during the general session. When it wasn’t possible to meet with someone or if a meeting was cancelled, we left them with our one-page briefing document and contact information for MASFAP.

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MASFAP Professional Development is going strong! By Chelsey Giles

We are excited to announce that throughout the 2015 year the MASFAP Professional Development committee will be offering six, one-day drive-in training opportunities for members to get credentialed in a variety of CORE financial aid topics. Participants will learn from MASFAP experts using NASFAA CORE training materials. Upon completion of the training participants will be eligible to apply for NASFAA credentialing. Topics are listed below, some dates have been set and others are yet to be determined.

Credentialing #1: Verification and Packaging – April 1st REGISTATION NOW OPEN!

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