2021 Greetings from Abby and Darcy

Happy 2021!

I hope that you and yours had a wonderful, if different, holiday season full of joy, health, and relaxation. I know that I did not get near as much accomplished as I had planned during the last two weeks of the year, but just hanging out without a schedule for two weeks was glorious! Abby was also happy for all the extra cuddle time and developed a habit of riding on my shoulder. She will now sit and look up at you, waiting for you to squat down so she can jump up there. Then once you’re upright again, she lays down holding on to one shoulder with her paws.

It’s super cute, though a little painful for 9 pounds to be awkwardly placed on your neck.

At the end of 2020, I asked KASFAA members to share at least one positive experience they had during 2020. There were so many things that people were grateful for.

  • New babies and grandbabies
    • There were at least three new KASFAA babies and at least two new KASFAA grandbabies arrive in 2020
    • A new grandchild was acquired after the fun of COVID wedding planning
  • Family
    • More time for family
    • One parent with a college freshman and high school senior really appreciated the opportunity to have more (unexpected) time to spend with them at home
    • Forced stepping down from outside responsibilities that opened up a lot of time with their family that they’d been wishing for
    • Working from home allows people to see what their retired spouse does all day long
    • Children getting engaged
    • Children finishing degrees
    • Having parents move closer, as in next door
    • Cherished moments when there was an opportunity to see a friend or family member
  • Travel
    • Nature vacation with spouse
    • First vacation in 20 years of marriage!
    • Visiting grandbabies
    • Rediscovering nature
  • Health and Lifestyle
    • There have been several members who have had COVID in varying degrees of severity. All of them expressed gratitude that they survived it
    • Children (especially high-risk ones) avoiding COVID even when parents had it
    • Thankful that their lifestyle didn’t experience extreme changes due to pandemic living
    • Several members were thankful that they and their loved ones have remained healthy throughout the duration
    • Slowed down lifestyle
    • Opportunity to focus on healthy behaviors (yay for running again!)
    • Better hygiene habits
    • Forced rest periods
  • Work
    • Opportunity to move 1000 miles to take a new job that they love (welcome to KS!)
    • Getting to see people’s faces in virtual meetings instead of just having conference calls of old
    • Working from home provided insight that upcoming retirement won’t be so bad
    • Encouraged by the ingenuity, creativity, and versatility witness by so many in our community
  • Pets
    • Provided humorous moments during virtual meetings that was much needed
    • The pupper who was adopted at the end of 2019 that provided a reason to get up and moving and get outside, as well as lots of snuggles and mental/emotional support
    • Opportunity to spend more time at home with my aging cat (Would you believe Abby is almost 16?)

2020 was not a year full of rainbows and kittens. I know that many suffered losses, had family emergencies, and had to navigate working through those with new rules and safety guidelines to abide by. For some it was just a crap year (even disregarding the toilet paper shortage). For all of you, I’m wrapping you in extra (long-distance) hugs. However, one thing I know about FAAs, and Kansans, in particular, is that we’re a resilient bunch. I know that we will continue to bounce back, move forward, and lean on each other when we need support.

I was just getting ready to wish everyone a refreshed and positive 2021, and started getting texts from my friends about what is going on at the US Capitol (It’s January 6th that I’m writing this). So I’m just going to say this: now, more than ever we need to continue to work together, support each other, and love each other, no matter what.

I love my KASFAA family and I hope these positive outlooks can bring some hope to you. HUGS!

Darcy Johnson
KASFAA President

New adventures await, LeAnn!

A farewell and a congratulations goes out to LeAnn Ferguson.

Tomorrow, December 18th, will be her last day. Before she begins her new adventure, we thought we would ask her a few questions.

What is your current position and how long have you held this position?

I am currently an Administrative Associate in Financial Aid and Scholarships and have been in this position for 1 year and 2 months.

How long have you been in the financial aid/Higher Ed financial field?

9 years in financial aid, but 26 1/2 years at the University of Kansas.

What is one of your greatest memories in your career?

Working with so many great people and building some long term friendships.

What are some words of wisdom in this field?

Remain kind and helpful.

What will you do the first day you do not have to arrive at the office?

Kick back, relax and read!

Do you have any retirement goals?

Do what I want to do not what I have to do!  Spend quality time with my grandkids, kids, family and friends. 

What is your favorite quote?

“Life isn’t determined by the cards you were dealt but how you play your hand” – Isaac Breese

We wish you a very happy retirement filled with books, love, doing what you wanna do, grandkids, and everything you desire.

Check In with KASFAA – Mental Health Checks

We are taking a beat to check in.

Check in with KASFAA, with yourself, your co-workers, and your family and friends.

It is super important, especially now, to take a moment and connect with yourself and those around you. It can improve your self-esteem, reduce stress, ease anxiety, and more. You can do this in many ways.

In this space you will be able to share with our KASFAA family …

  1. You can ask questions to the group
  2. You can offer your best tips on healthy mental behaviors
  3. You can show your favorite yoga poses for mental stress relief and tell why it relieves that stress
  4. You can give us a playlist of the songs that calm you
  5. You can share a couple of your favorite (safe for work) jokes to make us laugh

Kristina (Association News & Publicity committee member) reached out to several of her coworkers for their thoughts and ideas and here is what they had to say 🙂

Exercise: Get out and move. Talk to friends. Do something for someone else. – Ron, Director of LIbrary Services at MCC

Eat as well as possible and stay active physically to help keep things in shape mentally. Also, as a Christian I cannot imagine this time without leaning on the Lord for His care and purpose. – Genae Denver, Alumni Director, MCC

Short “brain breaks” by saying a prayer, slow deep breathing and visualizing a happy place, a couple of minutes playing Gummy Drop on my phone. – Kristina Blanck, Financial Aid Processing Specialist, Manhattan Christian College

Make sure you feed yourself positive criticism.  The world is negative enough around  you, make sure you are encouraging yourself. – Kevin Foster, Admissions Counselor MCC

Kristina also had jokes to get you smiling!!

Why is Peter Pan always flying???  Because he Neverlands.  ( I love this joke because it never grows old).

My teachers told me I’d never amount to anything since I procrastinate so much….I told them, “Just you wait!” (to the tune of Hamilton)

We would love to see what you have to say. Add your mental health check behaviors in the comment section below. Can’t wait to see this conversation unfold.

We Bid You Adieu, Diane!

A farewell and a congratulations goes out to Diane Borchardt.

She will be retiring December 4, 2020. Before she jets off to some amazing places, we thought we would ask her a few questions.

What is your current position and how long have you held this position?

My current job title is Regional Vice President.  Although my title has changed a few times, I’ve been working with school financial aid administrators since I joined the guarantor in 2002.

How long have you been in the financial aid/Higher Ed financial field?

This year is my 40th year in financial aid.  As many of our colleagues, I started as a student worker at my college.  My first years of financial aid were at Concordia University – St. Paul.  Then at the guarantor.

This is ‘from my first year in financial aid.  The lady in the center is Miss Lundberg – who taught me well about administering Title IV aid.  We used green ledger paper to balance FWS, SEOG and Perkins.  The man on the right is Mike Flynn, who was the Financial Aid Director at that time.’

What is one of your greatest memories in your career?

This is a tough question.  On the school side, my greatest memories are of helping students.  Although students don’t always say thank you, there were those that did.  A student who brought me a rose with a nice thank you; when I got a brief note from the student or the time a graduate came back to campus with his wife and kids and told his family that I made his education possible — they spoke for all the rest.

I have many, many memories of working with financial aid administrators in many offices.  I especially have memories of the KASFAA conference. Those conference themes are always so creative.

What are some words of wisdom in this field?

Never lose sight of the ultimate goal – making sure students have the resources to make it to graduation.

What will you do the first day you do not have to arrive at the office?

I’m going to sleep in, then get up for a leisurely cup of coffee with the paper.  😊

Do you have any retirement goals?

My husband and I plan to travel when the world is safer.  In the meantime, I will have more time to spend with my six grands (virtually) as well as the opportunity to bike and garden in the summer; read by a cozy fire in the fall and winter; and sew fun things.

Portland, ME
Sidney, Australia

I will also be helping out in my daughter and son-in-law’s Great Harvest Bread store by bringing their wares to the local Farmers Market next summer.

What is your favorite quote?

I didn’t have one….but decided it was time to adopt…..these both speak to me and the next chapter.

The most wasted of days is one without laughter – E.E. Cummings

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream – C.S Lewis

Do you have anything else to add?

I’ll miss my financial aid family.   You are the best!

We wish you a very happy retirement filled with laughter, family, travels, quiet moments, and everything you desire.

Femme Finaid: The Wonder Women of the Financial Aid Office

“BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW SMALL AN ACT OF KINDNESS OR GENEROSITY OR
SIMPLE POSITIVITY YOU PUT OUT INTO THE WORLD, IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”
—WONDER WOMAN COMIC

Have you ever looked around and realized how many more women there seems to be in our financial aid offices and/or associations? Why is that? Do we possess some secret hidden power? No, we don’t, but perhaps we just utilize our skill set and God-given abilities in a different way that is more conducive to the service-heavy world of federal aid perhaps. 

Biology doesn’t play into here, but instead its our nature. Some of our traditional feminine traits are that we seem to be more empathetic, nurturing, understanding, warm, gentle and sensitive. On top of that most of us have responsibilities outside of our 8-5 workplaces. Our additional reality may include PTO, homeroom mom, caretaker of our elderly parents, spouse, children, exercise junkie, part-time adult student, committee member, little league/gymnast coach/cheerleader, master chef of our household domains, and chaos organizer extraordinaire. The list could go on and on and on, it’s exhausting. Those are just some of the things I know many of you and myself endure outside of our day to day jobs.

So, you can see our traditional feminine traits allow us to be excellent financial aid administrators. But how does Wonder Woman factor into this you may ask?

Wonder Woman is a comic book character, she’s not real. Or is she??

Many of her abilities were given to her by the Greek gods. Her strength from Demeter, Athena for her wisdom/courage, her loving heart from Aphrodite and finally her skill from the god Hermes. Don’t we all possess those characteristics and use them daily in our roles as aid administrators, wives, mothers, caretakers, coaches, etc?

WHY YES, WE DO!! If this last year has proven anything to me or made more evident it’s that women adapt fast; it’s in our nature. Born multi-taskers and organizers (keepers of the family calendar).

We quickly go into action on how best to handle our day-to-day routine and now its disruption of our students and families for that matter. Sure, there’s others in our offices to help us create the plans of how best to keep the office running with least disruption to our students.  I need people who can think of the logistical stuff while I’m thinking of maintaining service and hospitality. But we also are balancing simultaneously how we’re going to handle all the other things in our lives impacted by something like a pandemic. You know what I’m talking about! How many of you got to suddenly add teacher and lunch lady to your workload for the day? How many of you got to become a temporary emergency management responder to decide protocols for your offices or better yet navigating the CARES Act?

Thought so and to that I say, there’s a Wonder Woman in all of us!! Advocating for student’s ability to pay for college, defenders of the Higher Education Act, and caretakers of all (students, campus community, family, self)!

It was fun being able to present this notion of the Wonder Woman complex at our regional conference recently. But most importantly to give a shout out to all the amazing women who we all get to work or network with. I know you’ve all got a lot to handle professionally and personally. But you all inspire me everyday because you continue to rise to the challenge and meet it head on with beauty, grace, humility and probably a cup of “keep ya going caffeine.” Sometimes you just need to be told – YOU ALL ROCK & KEEP IT UP!!

Sadonia Lane, KASFAA Association News co-chair

Happy Financial Aid Day

On October 24, 2011 Timothy Bishop, former representative for New York’s District 1, stood up in front of congress in the House of Representatives and gave thanks to all financial aid professionals.

         “Mr Speaker, I rise today to recognize the objectives of Financial Aid Day (FAD).                      FAD reserves the third Wednesday in October to honor the role financial aid                            professionals across the United States play in helping students realize their dream                  of attaining a college education.”

Today we give thanks to all of you for the amazing job you do as a financial aid professional.

Imagine all of those lives you’ve touched, all the families you’ve helped, and all those dreams you made come true.

I know it is a bit difficult to celebrate this year with all that is going on. Not being in the office, or being able to gather around each other, but we did want to take the time to let you know you are appreciated!!!

FAFSA TIME!!

October 1st already!!! Can you believe it?!

The 21-22 FAFSA is now available!!

I would love to know some of your tips for your students and parents!

Here are a couple of mine…

  1. Carve out some time for the FAFSA. DO NOT do it in a hurry.
  2. Have all FSA IDs, passwords, SSNs, Driver Licenses, or Alien Registration card, and tax records available before starting.
  3. Know your potential schools’ deadline dates.
  4. Use the help text on the FAFSA when filling it out.
  5. Once complete, be on the look out for follow up emails about corrections or completing verification.

I hope my tips help and I can’t wait to hear yours in the comment section below!!

Misconceptions & Misnomers of Volunteering – Pt 5

We are continuing to take a look at our wonderful KASFAA volunteers from across the committees. We are revealing their misconceptions and then what changed their minds.

Here are more of our incredible committee members …

2020 Volunteer I will - Baby Yoda | Make a Meme

Name: Kelli Lowe

School/Business: Credit World Services

Years volunteering: 2

Position(s) held/hold: co-chair, chair corporate support

Your misconceptions before volunteering: I was not aware there was a need. Also, reservations, as to if I would have time.

What made you do it anyway? I became aware of the need and decided I would just go for it.

Name: Diana VanDyke

School/Business: Butler Community College

Years volunteering: OMG I am not sure….10 or more years!

Position(s) held/hold: Chairs of several Committees, member of several Committees, Vice President and President Elect.

Your misconceptions before volunteering:  I did not think I had the knowledge, ability or experience to be an asset on a committee, let alone lead a committee or the organization!  I was also worried about the time commitment.

What made you do it anyway?  My boss pushed me to volunteer for a committee and it just escalated from there!  I have discovered that regardless of my prior experience or ability, KASFAA has such an amazing support system that you can succeed in whatever position you decide to go for.  And you can be as involved as you are able to be.  Even if it is only giving KASFAA a few hours a month.  It is just up to you!

We would love for you to participate in this series with us. Leave a comment below. Don’t forget to also include what changed your mind.

Along with this series we are including a call to volunteer. If something changes your mind or you find you relate to one of these stories feel free to head over to kasfaa.org/volunteer and complete our volunteer form. There are still plenty of spots open throughout our committees.

Misconceptions & Misnomers of Volunteering – Pt 4

We are continuing to take a look at our wonderful KASFAA volunteers from across the committees. We are revealing their misconceptions and then what changed their minds.

Lets meet 2 more of our fabulous committee members …

Leonardo Dicaprio Cheers Meme - Imgflip

Name: Kristi Blevins

School/Business: Highland Community College, Highland, Kansas

Years volunteering: 3 years

Position(s) held/hold: KASFAA-Membership committee; RMASFAA-Leadership Pipeline Committee, Association News Committee, Summer Institute Registration Co-Chair and Summer Institute Registration Chair

Your misconceptions before volunteering: I was afraid it would be too time consuming.  I also was afraid I wouldn’t know enough in order to be of any help to anyone.  I was also intimidated by the bonds that people in the leadership roles already seemed to have with each other, and that I would feel like an outsider.  That has definitely not been the case!  Everyone has been so welcoming and it has helped me to create bonds with new people!

What made you do it anyway? My boss! Ha!  He encourages us to participate and volunteer.  I’m glad he pushed me to do it.  I have met so many people along the way that I have relied on as peers in this industry.  But I have also leaned on those friendships I have created, too.

Meme Maker - I will see YOU at the volunteer meeting Meme Maker ...

Name: Cindy Kleinsorge

School/Business: Johnson County Community College

Years volunteering: Probably as long as I’ve worked at JCCC – almost 24 years

Position(s) held/hold: Committee chairs – Registration, Awards, Association news and publicity, Fiscal officers, Membership, Decorations, and probably others as well. I’ve always assisted on conference planning in one way or another on a sub-committee, not sure I’ve missed a conference to attend or assist.  I also held the offices Secretary and VP (plans program for conferences) of KASFAA, and was Secretary of RMASFAA. For RMASFAA I was on the site committee and helped both times when Kansas hosted RMAFSAA in charge of the skit committee and was chairman of Publicity Committee when Kansas hosted in Wichita a few years back. Association News and Publicity was committee of the year this past year. That was icing on the cake for all of us. The committee was awesome and we were all so proud and excited about the recognition!

Your misconceptions before volunteering:   It’s always been in my nature to volunteer and assist where needed. I’ve never said no when it comes to that. I think the big thing people might think is the time factor, but anyone can do anything they put their mind to…I feel people manage their time much better when they are busy, so you fit it in where you can and you do the best job you can. The rewards are wonderful – meeting new people, having a group of people that have your back and knowing your helping an organization grow to its fullest potential. We have always had great leaders in this organization so I do not foresee that changing anytime soon. Each committee chair has a handbook to assist, but your peers are also here to guide you and assist with questions.

What made you do it anyway?   I love interacting with people and making a great organization even better. KASFAA has such a great reputation within our region and nationally that there’s no reason not to volunteer. It’s so worth it and you’ll not regret it.

We would love for you to participate in this series with us. If you did not receive an email from us about your misconceptions, feel free to leave a comment. Don’t forget to also include what changed your mind.

Along with this series we are including a call to volunteer. If something changes your mind or you find you relate to one of these stories feel free to head over to kasfaa.org/volunteer and complete our volunteer form. There are still plenty of spots open throughout our committees.

Misconceptions & Misnomers of Volunteering – Pt 3

30 Best Volunteer Management Memes images in 2020 | Volunteer ...

In this series over the next few weeks, we will continue to take a look at our wonderful KASFAA volunteers from across the committees. We are revealing their misconceptions and then what changed their minds.

Lets meet 2 more of our wonderful committee members …

Name: Crystal DeLong

I know I’m a lender now so entirely different world but I wanted to answer with my FA Director hat on!!

School/Business: Citizens One Private Student Loans. Previously a workstudy student and then counselor at FHSU for 9 years, then Director of Financial Aid at Avila University in MO for 9 years.

Years volunteering: I have volunteered in either my state or regional associations for 15 years straight!!

Your misconceptions before volunteering/What made you do it anyway?: I was young and met some of “the right” people (aka Robb Cummings, Myra Pfannenstiel) at my first KASFAA so I was volunteering fast!  BUT I was nervous because I was a new professional at 22 years old and it seemed like the people involved were a tight family.

Soooooo jump in and become part of the family is my advice.  Having the KASFAA connections is how I survived my first few years as a Director.  I can’t tell you how many times I called Craig Karlin at FHSU and Brenda Hicks at Southwestern to help me figure out a policy or a process that I hadn’t been exposed to as a counselor.

Meme Creator - Funny BORN READY TO VOLUNTEER Meme Generator at ...

Name: Linda Oldham Burns

School/Business: KS Board of Regents

Years volunteering: 14

Position(s) held/hold: Finance Chair, Outreach Training, re-imagining College Goal Sunday, Archives, Membership

What made you do it anyway?  This is a way to give back to the people and industry that you work.  Once you get started on one committee, you get so much more back in way of relationships and a reward for the work that you accomplish that you want to keep going!!

We would love for you to participate in this series with us. If you did not receive an email from us about your misconceptions, feel free to leave a comment. Don’t forget to also include what changed your mind.

Along with this series we are including a call to volunteer. If something changes your mind or you find you relate to one of these stories feel free to head over to kasfaa.org/volunteer and complete our volunteer form. There are still plenty of spots open throughout our committees.