Conference Planning Meeting – Brenda Hicks


This is how a training event begins….a group of people gather in a small room to go over deadlines, schedules, budgets, menus and other details that need to be decided so that events like the Fall Training and Spring Conference are implemented smoothly.  On Monday, July 21, the KASFAA conference planning committee gathered at the Hotel at OldTown Conference Center in Wichita Kansas to discuss these and other topics.

Things that we learned – Sara Vancil is growing a raised garden in her backyard, Diana VanDyke has a miniature horse, Keith Fitzsimmons and May Schumacher are working on an accurate definition of “rodeo butt,” Dianna Bunker has a beautiful and talented but slightly spazmodic dog, Lacey Ledwich is too busy to have a dog, Shirley Bader can sew and Tisha Anderson knows how to turn mulberrys into fruit pies.  Brenda Hicks, Diane Lindeman and La’Lisa Coley kept the peace and no one wanted me to take their picture.  I did it anyway.

This group is great – thoughtful minds, excellent questions and terrific ideas!  Together, we are working on providing two events that will meet your 2014-2015 training needs with a dash or two of relaxation and fun.  The conference committee will be meeting monthly by phone from now until the spring conference is concluded and there is still lots of room for extra help if you are interested.

First up is Fall Training in Dodge City on October 9-10!  Look for registration and details about the conference on the website soon.  I don’t think I’m spilling the beans too much by indicating that you might want to look around in your closet for that cowboy gear that you have stuffed away….you might have an opportunity to wear it in the very near future.  And, as you are looking – if you happen to find a stick horse, nerf gun or rope  – let La’Lisa Coley or Dianna Bunker from Hutchinson Community College know.  For real.  I’m serious.

Five Things Every Default Management Plan Needs

Kevin Struckhoff, TG Assistant Vice President for Relationship Management and Consulting

If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of student loan default, it’s that rising rates are forcing many schools to candidly evaluate how well they support their student borrowers. It’s also motivating schools to expand efforts in things like debt management — to find more ways to send the message: “We’ve got your back. Here are some things you can do now and later to succeed in repayment.”

A school’s default management plan typically lays the blueprint for campus self-assessment and borrower education. Schools sometimes see the default management plan in a negative light, since the Department requires the plan for schools with high default rates. But a good plan can serve a strategic purpose. It can be the key to unlocking campus collaboration and getting many departments invested and working on default prevention. It can spur research on why students default. And it can lay out a comprehensive vision of how to tame default and promote a campus culture that champions the student borrower. Also, upper management is more likely to see value in the effort and throw weight into the project.

Five elements of a good default management plan

You don’t have to build a plan from scratch. The Department of Education provides a template on which a school can model its own plan. The Department advocates attacking default throughout the life of the loan. This means educating students in their options before they borrow and supporting them as they repay, especially if their loans enter delinquency. Here are some other suggestions to make your school’s plan more robust.

  • School self-assessment — An institutional self-assessment can go in many directions. Ideally, it should provide a baseline for your school’s default prevention efforts, showing what your school does to tackle default and how well it performs. To find this baseline, you could consider how effectively your school helps students graduate on time and ready to manage loan repayment. You might put together a history of your institutions’ default rates. And you could talk with students, faculty, and staff about what your school can do to better engage students so they feel supported and prepared when repayment time comes. Other areas of self-assessment could include enrollment management practices, financial literacy education, and even campus life and culture.
  • Analysis of borrower default — An analysis of trends in default could be part of a school’s self-assessment, but it could stand by itself also. Why? An analysis will likely contain the seeds of expanded or new efforts in helping borrowers succeed in repayment, and a separate section could highlight these opportunities. Generally, an effective statistical analysis will look for trends among borrowers whose loans enter default. For example, borrowers who leave school prematurely without a degree may be prone to delinquency and then default. Other factors that schools might consider: grade point average, Pell-eligibility, part-time enrollment status, enrollment in a particular program of study, local labor market conditions, and borrowing levels by socioeconomic background.
  • Tactics and strategies — The heart of any good plan is the section that lays out what a school will do to better manage default. In the “Tactics and Strategies” area, the school should use its default analysis and self-assessment as a foundation on which to recommend new or expanded initiatives that address weak points in borrower support. For example, if borrowers without a degree tend to default more, schools could consider how to maintain students through degree completion. Or if data shows that borrowers from a given major have high rates of default, a school could consider how to smooth the path to employment for this group.
  • Default taskforce — It’s a good idea to get multiple departments involved in default prevention, since many departments can affect the issue. Creating a taskforce made up of representatives from such departments as admissions, the registrar, financial aid, faculty, and other areas is key to the success of any school’s default prevention. The school’s default management plan could designate members for the taskforce and define their areas of responsibility with regard to default prevention.
  • Success measures —Plan developers should consider factors that contribute to default, establish measures that address these factors, and then set goals for these measures. These goals should be evaluated periodically to show progress or the need for improvement. As an example, a school could require students to take a certain number of debt management trainings. Or it could commit to reducing default for a segment of borrowers by a given percentage. The value of putting such goals on paper is that doing so makes clear what success in default prevention looks like for the institution.

Resources to tap now

If you’re looking for an example default management plan, the Department of Education offers a comprehensive one, which can be downloaded through the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. You could also do an online search to find examples. Or you could turn a third-party servicer that provides default prevention services for a fee.

Kevin Struckhoff is TG assistant vice president for relationship management and consulting. You can reach Kevin at (800) 252-9743, ext. 6701, or by email at Additional information about TG can be found online at

New Member Spotlight – Traniece Bruce

Traniece Bruce

Please take a moment to get to know one of our newest KASFAA members, Traniece Bruce.  Welcome, Traniece!

What institution do you work for: Wichita State University
How long have you been with your current school? Total: 9 years; Current Position: 1 month
Tell us in one sentence what you do for the financial aid team: I assist with student counseling and outreach efforts.
What are you most looking forward to with being a KASFAA member? I am looking forward to meeting colleagues within the organization and getting involved!
Where did you get your undergrad: Wichita State University.
What three words would you use to describe yourself: Outgoing, intellectual and inquisitive.
Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun: I love to travel and experience different cultures and places, concerts, live music and perform spoken word/poetry.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I am shy.
The best thing about Kansas is: The erratic seasons…. I get to wear my entire wardrobe all year. Music to a frugal person’s ears!
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 things would you bring with you? A bison (food and warmth), an MP3 player with Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” CD on it (it’s a classic) and a Rubik’s cube.


Teach your students the basics of banking

Teach your students the basics of banking

Kevin Struckhoff, TG Assistant Vice President for Relationship Management and Consulting

If you offer your students financial literacy training, here’s a topic to add to your curriculum: How To Use Banks and Credit Unions. According to a 2011 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation survey, close to half of all lower-income households are unbanked or underbanked, meaning they either don’t have a bank account or have an account but also rely on alternative financial services, like check cashing and payday lenders.

It’s likely that some of your students don’t use a bank or credit union either. Why should banking matter to students?

“Banks and credit unions give folks access to the mainstream financial systems in our country,” said Jordana Barton, a senior advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “Banks are essential to people who want to partake in our society in a fuller way.”

Among other things, banks and credit unions can help students establish a credit history, they’ll need to buy a car or start a business. Banks can save students cash in terms of lower interest rates and fees. And using banks or credit unions makes students less likely to turn to predatory lenders like pawn shops, which can trap consumers with hard-to-repay loans.

“Demystifying how banks operate can lead more students to open a checking or savings account,” said Barton.

Bank On

Barton, who was born in the colonias along the Texas-Mexico border, works in community development, but she spent the early part of her career as a student financial aid counselor. Her background has spurred her to look for ways to empower lower-income families and students.

“To narrow the gap between rich and poor, we have to get more students engaged in programs like college and banking,” said Barton.

Barton noted that many colleges are requiring students complete one or more classes on managing money and that banking fits under that umbrella. She also described various financial awareness campaigns from across the country, including “Bank On,” that might offer support to colleges.

“Bank On’s main purpose is to sign people up who aren’t banked,” said Barton. “Participating banks offer affordable, entry-level services to interested folks.These banks also tend to be flexible in the forms of identification they accept, including consular IDs.”

Investing in themselves

Studies show that unbanked students and families may feel intimidated by the large national chains or don’t believe they have enough money to start an account. Barton said that mentors on campus can help students become more comfortable with the idea of banking.

Based on her own experience, Barton noted that personal testimony has the most power to motivate students to use banks. “Stories of success with a checking or savings account demystify things for students and their families.”

However, there may be other roadblocks to bank use. Many first-generation students feel indebted to their families and offer their parents any money they acquire, including fainancial aid. “What you have to do is show these students that by banking their financial aid, they are investing in themselves,” said Barton.

The challenge, according to Barton, is to make clear to students that by starting a bank account they position themselves to help their families down the road. “Explaining bank benefits this way can get students and families on board.”


Kevin Struckhoff is TG Assistant Vice President for Relationship Management and Consulting, serving schools in KASFAA. You can reach Kevin at (800) 252-9743, ext. 6701, or by email at Additional information about TG can be found online at

NASFAA Conference Update – Ben Kohl, KASFAA President

Hi KASFAA members:

I thank you for providing me with the opportunity to travel to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the NASFAA National Conference. I joined over 2,500 financial aid professionals at the beautiful new Music City Center from Sunday to Wednesday, as we networked and attended sessions.

Sunday morning, I joined the NASFAA Web Redevelopment Task Force members in our first face-to-face meeting. The meeting was very eventful and we are very excited about the opportunity to work together to make a more effective and efficient website for the NASFAA membership.

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The conference began shortly after our meeting on Sunday with a rousing keynote speech from educator Ron Clark, a Disney American Teacher of the Year and two-time bestselling New York Times author.

As a middle school educator, Ron Clark has helped students academically succeed from suburban North Carolina to New York City’s Harlem.

I just believed in these kids,” Clark exclaimed. “When I saw potential in them, they started to see it in themselves.”

We were encouraged by Ron Clark’s speech, as we know that we play a similar role as we help students every day.

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After experiencing the charisma of Ron Clark, I attended the “Inside the Beltway” session with the NASFAA President Justin Draeger and Director of Policy & Advocacy Megan McClean. Together, they brought updates from Washington, D.C. to a room packed full of financial aid administrators.

Draeger let us know that the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act still has a long way to go and that it will likely receive a one-year extension to 2015, making next spring the earliest to expect major movement.

Draeger further spoke about the bills, the Higher Education Affordability Act from Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the bipartisan Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act from Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). Draeger let us know that these bills contain limitation of loans for broad categories of students, reinstituting year-round Pell Grants, and a FAFSA switch to prior-prior year (PPY) tax data to determine financial aid eligibility.

Megan McClean encouraged us to advocate for policies at the local level. She provided some key tips when advocating for policies and building relationships with legislators.

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The next session I attended was the Federal Town Hall Meeting, and it opened with Ron Day, NASFAA Past National Chair and Director of Student Financial Aid at Kennesaw State University, stating, “This is the Jeff Baker Show!”

Jeff Baker, Director of Federal Student Aid for the U.S. Department of Education, provided federal updates and answered questions from the attendees of the session. Baker gave information about the the implications of Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (SULA), upcoming changes to the FAFSA, the proposed college ratings system, and the positive potential use of PPY.

Further, Baker, informed us that the Perkins loan program is scheduled to end on September 30, 2015.

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After visiting the vendors in the exhibit area, I put on my boots and hat and headed out to downtown Nashville.


At breakfast, on Monday morning, Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, enlightened us by offering us an historical perspective of the United States’ economy and the division of poverty and prosperity dating back to the Great Depression.

Smith encouraged us to believe again in citizen power, get engaged in policy and action, and know that higher education is where positive political change can occur. Smith mentioned that we should pay attention to tax law because it is the single most important indicator of political power in the United States.

After breakfast, I attended a session about research and practice concerning student debt, where I garnered more information for my Ph.D. literature review. Diane Cheng, Research Analyst for The Institute for College Access & Success, Inc. provided research material, while Alison Rabil, Assistant Vice Provost and Director of Financial Aid for Duke University and Barry Simmons, Assistant Provost for Special Projects for Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University offered information about how their financial offices assist students through loan administration and counseling methods.

At lunch, Senator Lamar Alexander spoke about how the bipartisan FAST act that he and Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) recently introduced would reduce the number of questions on the FAFSA to two: determination of family size and PPY income. Sen. Alexander encouraged us to “start from scratch with a new proposal (to simplify FAFSA) that has the correct objectives, and then add to that the other ideas that need to be put on it.”

After his speech, Senator Alexander was awarded the NASFAA Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award by NASFAA National Chair, Craig Munier (Director of Scholarship and Financial Aid for the University of Nebraska).

During the lunch sessions, pictures of state and regional association members were presented on the big screens during a slideshow. I sent some pictures of our members to NASFAA to add to the slideshow. Here is one of our pictures, caught in transition.

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On Monday afternoon, I attended a session about how to utilize efficient processing and detailed data gathering with all financial aid activities with our student information system as well as a session about consumer disclosure requirements and tools.

On Tuesday, I was able to see how technology is enhancing how we find and share information. I attended a session on the new NASFAA Student Aid Index ( and was impressed with the information within and the ease of obtaining the information we need, when we need it. I also attended a session on how to strategize the use of social media to better communicate with students and families. Although K-State does not use social media to communicate with students and families, I was able to see how KASFAA can utilize social media in many strategic ways to deliver information and enhance networking for members.

I would be remiss to not mention that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the words of wisdom from the presenters of the session about how to appropriately deal with the demand for student aid data. Knowing the key players at our institutions, where all of the data resides, how to negotiate priorities, and how to clarify requests are all very critical components to understand when providing data.

It was really fun to tweet on throughout the conference with the hash tag “#NASFAA2014″ because I was able to meet so many other financial aid “Tweeters” online and at the conference. One of the perks is that sometimes NASFAA will see a picture that one of us “tweets” and “retweets” it on the NASFAA Twitter account (@nasfaa). This picture that I took of Craig Munier passing the gavel and hugging the new NASFAA National Chair, Eileen O’Leary (Assistant Vice President, Student Financial Services at Stonehill College) is one of those pictures.

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At the award ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, our own Brenda Hicks (President-Elect for KASFAA, Past President for RMASFAA, and Director of Financial Aid for Southwestern College) won the NASFAA Leadership Award for her work with RMASFAA. The plaque will be presented to Brenda by Eileen O’Leary, NASFAA National Chair, at the upcoming RMASFAA fall conference in October, in Snowbird, Utah. Congratulations to Brenda Hicks!

The conference came to a close on Wednesday morning, as ED officials Jeff Baker and Lynn Mahaffie shared a number of updates (PowerPoint used during closing session).

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Thank you, again, for the opportunity to attend the NASFAA National Conference. Next year, Brenda Hicks (President-Elect) will be attending the conference in New Orleans. I am looking forward to utilizing the knowledge and experience gained through the conference to help lead KASFAA now and throughout my term as President.

You can see more about the conference from the Facebook status updates, Twitter tweets, and pictures from sessions, events, and commentary on the NASFAA Facebook and Twitter accounts using #NASFAA2014 when you search. If you are a member of NASFAA, more information and session presentations can be obtained at

Please let me know if you have comments or questions.

- Ben Kohl, KASFAA President

Postcards from the South – NASFAA Conference Day 2 by Brenda Hicks

On the menu today was an appetizer of advocacy, an main course of information and more KASFAA sightings for dessert!

After having a wonderful breakfast with my fellow colleagues from other United Methodist colleges, I began my day with an advocacy history lesson by Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith. He reminded us of the importance of being engaged citizens.  His speech was a perfect transition to learning about what is happening on the Reauthorization front by none other than Justin Draeger, Pat Hurley and Bonnie Joerschke.  These three not only shared information about the legislation that is being introduced in the House and Senate but also shared the results of a couple of NASFAA task forces that have completed their reports.  There are four additional task forces handling topics related to Reauthorization in the works – including one on R2T4. I would challenge all of you to get involved in this important work and make a difference for all of us in this next round.

Following that session we had lunch with Senator Lamar Alexander.


An advocate for simplicity in the process, Senator Alexander is introducing a bill that would reduce the size of the FAFSA to a postcard and is an advocate of a financial aid system that would have one grant, one loan and one work study program.  This guy thinks outside the box!  I like him.

After that, I got some ideas about how to tune up the compliance efforts on my campus and moderated the US Department of Education Verification session.  Another thing I love about NASFAA is that the Department is so supportive of the event.  They are on hand not only for sessions, but if you have a specific question, they have a spot in the vender area where you can queue up to ask it to a real, live resource person.

Throughout the day I had several more KASFAA sightings – including Charlie from Kansas Newman and the fabulous Connie Corcoran!


I ended the night patrolling Honky Tonk row with my friends Janet Riis and James Brocheit.  We ran into Ben Kohl who was hanging with a RMASFAA contingent including Joe Donlay.  The group also included some MASFAA folks Nick Prewitt and Crystal Bruntz.  They were having a great time.

Janet and I ate dinner at Etch and talked with Kay and her husband Steve from Missouri.


Kay is new to financial aid and attending her first NASFAA conference.  She took our picture.  We also noticed this morning’s speaker Hedrick Smith was in the restaurant.  What a nice bookend to the day.  We ran into Kay and Steve again across the street from the Wild Horse Saloon at The Benchmark where we watched a couple of guys with guitars play their hearts out to some classic country tunes.  Kay and Steve have good taste in food and in music.

-Brenda Hicks, President Elect

NASFAA Conference Update – Brenda Hicks, President Elect

The first day of NASFAA was a blast!  I arrived on Thursday to attend the PowerFAIDs conference and GUESS who I ran into!  Our old friend, Brenda Krehbiel.Brenda

Brenda is doing great and loves her new job.  It was fun to see her and catch up.

I started today with a NASFAA 50th Anniversary task force meeting.  I hope that some of you are planning to go to NASFAA in 2016 in Washington DC – it’s going to be very, very fun and I’m helping to plan the party!  We did some initial brainstorming and met each other.  The planning will continue for two more years.  Keep an eye out for further information.

After that I registered and plotted out my afternoon. RegStuff

What I love about NASFAA is that I get to spend my face-to-face time learning ideas and gathering inspiration from my fellow colleagues across the nation. While I was waiting for the general session to start, I also perused the attendee list to see who was here from KASFAA. I noticed our own Ben Kohl on the list who I hear is lighting up the Twittersphere.  I also noticed Scott Franz who happened to be sitting behind me in one of the sessions I attended this afternoon


I think I saw Robert Gamez traveling up an escalator…but I’m not sure.  I also know that Ms. Connie Corcoran is hanging around somewhere, but I haven’t seen her yet.

The opening speaker was Ron Clark.  Ron is an award winning teacher and founder of the Ron Clark Academy.  He is also an author and quite possibly one of the bounciest speakers that I have ever seen.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  Guys, he told a story about how he takes his kids to college campuses all across the nation and during those visits he always talks to the financial aid officers.  He thanked us for what we do and called us angels.  He was a terrific speaker and left the stage to a wild, standing ovation.

I went to two sessions – one on the future of the Perkins program by three presenters who shared their opinions and how they are preparing for the September 2015 expiration date.  I also attended the Federal Town Hall meeting – otherwise dubbed the “Jeff Baker Show.”  I picked up some valuable information there on Perkins, the FAFSA and SULA.  Jeff asked for feedback on what was good and bad about the way they are asking the parent questions on the FAFSA.  Jeff is always fun to listen to.

All in all – it was a great start to the conference.  I went to the Welcome reception where I had some of the best grits I’ve had in a long time and spent the evening bumping into friends like Myra, Mindy and Julie, looking at all the vender swag, getting a NASFAA tattoo and chatting up the NASFAA team and people from the RMAFSAA region.

-Brenda Hicks, President Elect