Our annual election is here, KASFAA!

All KASFAA members are voting members.  You should have received an email from ATAC, our website provider, with instructions on how to go vote.  Please note that because our Associate Member Delegate position is a two-year position, we are not electing anyone in that role this year.  Therefore, if you are an associate member, you will not be voting this year.

We have four officer positions on the ballot this year.  Those elected will be inducted at the spring conference in Topeka in April 2020.

President-Elect – This is a three-year position as President-Elect, President, and Past President.  The President-Elect serves as the co-chair of the conference planning committee and also will attend the NASFAA Leadership & Legislative Expo.

Vice-President – The VP serves as the co-chair of the conference planning committee, responsible for arranging for all programming and speakers.

Secretary – This role attends all board meetings and the annual business meetings, keeping records of the Association.

Treasurer-Elect – This is a three year position as Treasurer-Elect, Treasurer, and Chair of the Finance committee.  In the first year, this person will be in training with the Treasurer and slowly take over duties throughout the year.  The Treasurer-Elect will also attend the NASFAA Leadership & Legislative Expo.

 

  • President-Elect
    Kimberly Cashman
    Diana VanDyke
  • Vice President
    Kristi Blevins
    Sadonia Lane
  • Secretary
    Melinda Harrington
    Gail Sherron
  • Treasurer
    Angie Zeorlin

 

I want to thank everyone who agreed to run and those who have also said they will be willing to run in the future.  It takes a lot of us to make this organization work!  Now, go vote!  The ballot closes on October 11.

Sara Vancil
Past President
Chair, Association Governance

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Spotlight Employee…Alyssa Dick – Member of the JCCC Financial Aid Team

My name is Alyssa Dick and I am originally from Mason City, Iowa. I attended Iowa State University where my love and passion for financial aid started in 2012. I was a work study student in their financial aid department specializing in verification. After graduation I decided to make financial aid my full time career and was employed at Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, IA. Several years later my husband accepted a job in Kansas City, MO and we started our new adventure south!  I was then employed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as a financial aid coordinator working with graduate students and verification. I am currently employed at Johnson County Community College as a financial aid processing coordinator and very excited to be here and grow in my financial aid career. My husband and I have two boys. Kaleb is 3, and our newest son, Cooper, is 3 months old and him and I share a birthday. In my free time I enjoy being outdoors and currently spend a lot of time at the playground to burn the never ending energy of my toddler!

Keith Fitzsimmons – Cub Reporter – KASFAA Blog

All the news that fits…we print.

As Juliet Capulet asked Romeo Montague, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  so we ask about our association newsletter: How do you think the name Oz-Sociated Press came about?

Back in the early 1990’s Sara Honcek was working for Billie Jo Hamilton in the KU Med Center Financial Aid Office. Sara was the editor of the cleverly named “KASFAA Newsletter”. Sara’s son had just been born and the newsletter would  always have a picture or two of the new baby. One of the pictures had a Wizard of Oz background so naturally a Land of Oz theme came to Sara’s mind. There was some reference to an article from the Associated Press about that same time. So Sara put her ever-active mind into high gear and the two phrases were blended into OZ-Sociated Press.

When pressed, Honeck said, “He was just so cute, and there it was just right there in front of me”.

An inside source tells this reporter that Sara either misspoke or had a typo with Associated Press and it came out Oz-Sociated Press.

Call it what you want, the second version, like the rose, has a sweet twist to it.

So now you know.

Meet the Board Member with the fast keyboard fingers…Julie Scott – Secretary

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As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

I’m only 8 years into financial aid and 13 years into my career in higher education, so I’m not certain that I’d consider myself a “seasoned veteran” yet. What has impacted me most about the profession, though, has been the exposure to the broad range of barriers that face many of our students and families in their hunt for a post-secondary education. Continually knowing that I haven’t yet seen it all helps me be more adaptive as situations arise. Moreover, believing that we are playing an important role in helping provide educational access to students keeps me motivated in our industry.

In my time, the thing that’s changed the most has probably been the flip-flopping of verification requirements, the influx of verification groups, and the types of acceptable and unacceptable verification documentation. If there’s something that’s stayed the same, though, it is the friendliness of KASFAA-ns. No matter whether you need a shoulder to cry on about an issue, a colleague to call to work through a complex issue, or someone to remind you that we’re all in this together to do the life-affirming work of providing college access, the KASFAA community is the best!

What and/or who placed you in the financial aid industry? Was this your career path?

There might be too many people to count! While in college, I had many impactful university professors and staff members, that as my means of giving back, I knew that I would continue working with college students. When I was looking to make a jump from the TRIO grant-funded world back into the enrollment management environment, not only was my TRIO director supportive of the job change (I was craving a little more work-life balance), but I found myself in a job interview with Wichita State financial aid legend, Deb Byers. Deb, along with the support of others on her central team, hired me and later promoted me within the office when a leadership position became available. When Sheelu Surender became our director, she continued to grow me as a leader, and she has let me develop and use my strengths. There’s no specific college “major” that sets a student on a career path to “financial aid”, but having the skills to adapt, to think critically about doing processes better, and the passion to work with students goes a long way to making the career leap into financial aid an easy transition.

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

Have a growth mindset – not necessarily a desire for specific job promotions, but an attitude and willingness to acquire knowledge and to challenge yourself beyond the must-do’s of your job. Ask questions, seek information, and be willing to learn from your mistakes. Honestly, there are some financial aid concepts and processes that never “clicked” for me until I made a mistake and had to learn from it. Also, find yourself a Donna Carter; she’s one of our financial aid “lifers” who has always helped me connect the proverbial dots and find the missing links if I’m stuck on an issue.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

Within our office, I get to work closely with Donna Carter who has been a past KASFAA president. She has more than 20 years in this industry, and she always reminds me to be patient with myself. I’ve also had the benefit of connecting with so many colleagues in KASFAA who have provided nuggets of wisdom and encouragement during conferences and trainings that even while those mentoring moments might have been short, they were deeply impactful and just the right times.

How do you see this profession in 5 years? 10 years?

We know that financial aid is always evolving; the rules changes, and we adapt accordingly. Nonetheless, it is an exciting time in financial aid as NASFAA is working to enhance the credentialing processes for our profession. I am hopeful that as a result, all post-secondary institutions will recognize the complexity of our profession and ensure that financial aid professionals are provided ample training opportunities – and the compensation to match.

How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull?

When I have a break in the “busy-ness” of financial aid processing, I use that time to rethink and revise some of our processes and implement new strategies. A few years ago, I was frustrated that with our summer aid packaging process being so manual, it had a lot of room for human error. Over a few evenings, I sat down and wrote a series of formulas into an Excel file that have since been helping our summer aid packaging team improve their accuracy and efficiency. I suppose that I should really spend that spare time writing up my desk reference manual, though.

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

I’ve had many inspirational and influential people in my life, but the top rank goes to Dr. Bob Linder (affectionately referred to by his graduate students as “Crocodile Bob”). He was my major professor at K-State for my master’s program in history, and he provided me scholarship funds during my junior and senior years of my undergraduate program. He taught me that you always have to be thinking (“attention to detail”), that “mistakes matter – and professionals learn from them,” and that “the more you know, the more you know.” Plus, he’s the coolest and most loyal Royals fan I know!

What do you dislike doing? Professionally or personally or both?

I enjoy most every aspect of my professional job, but on the personal front, I really dislike loading and unloading the dishwasher. It’s like playing Tetris with germ-laden, odd-shaped breakables. Few things make me happier than when my husband or one of my boys has finished that task for me!

What do you like to do in your free time, either Indoors or Outdoors?

I enjoy taking walks or riding bikes with my husband and sons. It is refreshing to be outside, clear our minds from other stressors, and connect with each other through a family walk-talk. Additionally, while I love to read, I’ve learned that nothing is better than hearing your children read to you and dive into a beloved story.

What gets you excited about life?

I’m excited about changing students’ lives. Higher education, and financial aid in particular, provides an opportunity to change the entire trajectory of a student’s life, and we know that education can then have ripple effects for their future families. Being part of that is exciting!

What’s your favorite time of day?

I do my best work in the morning; it gives me the chance to walk into my office with a clean desk (hopefully) and start the day with my task list and begin tackling projects with a fresh outlook.

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

Get involved with KASFAA – attend as many conferences and trainings as your supervisor will sign off on, and get to know colleagues at other schools by joining a committee!

Meet the Board Members: Sara Vancil has fun with Tenses – Current Past President

As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

What has affected me most in the twelve years I have been in aid is how much the profession demands of us.  It can be completely daunting to stay up to date on hundreds of nuanced rules and regulations, not to mention our financial aid systems, and working in an environment where there’s never enough money to go around, either for us or for students.  It is very rewarding, but also very challenging.  To that end, the thing that I have seen change for the positive is that the vocation of being a Financial Aid Administrator has become more professionalized, thanks to NASFAA’s work with credentials and the new CFAA certification. 

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

First and foremost, I want others to view me as someone they can trust and rely on.  I would tell new folks to make themselves reliable, competent, and easy to work with.  I view these as keys to being successful.  In addition, financial aid is an occupation that is extremely knowledge driven.  I think everyone who takes a job in our world needs to make a commitment to ongoing training and content review to be truly effective.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

Yes, I’ve had numerous mentors in KASFAA and RMASFAA.  The best mentors encourage you to get involved, give you kudos when you do well, and help reassure you when you’re scared.  The confidence that others have in me is something I cherish very much.

How do you see this profession in 5 years? 10 years?

I don’t know that I see it being hugely different than it is now.  Perhaps the HEA will be reauthorized and will change some of the programs and processes we all work with and around.  But the day to day mission of helping students afford college won’t change.  The regulations and compliance issues will still be there, maybe just in slightly different flavors.  I think we’ll continue to see calls for our institutions to be more and more accountable and transparent with students and families.

How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull?

My slowest time of year is September and October.  I spend that time of year updating P&Ps and catching up on webinars and trainings.  And luckily, the RMASFAA conference is in October so I usually get to squeeze a trip in there to see friends and colleagues!  Day to day, if I’m working on something relatively mindless, I like to listen to stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.  I find I don’t have to be watching, just listening, to keep up and unlike a book or podcast, if I miss a joke, chances are I’ll still understand then next one!

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

I’m horrible with these questions and all variations like which famous person I’d have dinner with, living or dead.  I just go blank!  I admire people who change the world in whatever way they can, big or small.

Any thing exciting you’d like to share….

As I was writing this, my daughter made her seventeenth million batch of slime.  What is it with kids and slime?

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

Getting involved with KASFAA has been a way to expand my leadership and strategic planning skills.  I first got involved, however, to meet people and make connections.

What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?

I’ve been on a few different committees over the years.  My first chair role was with Publicity & Awareness.  I have served on the Board as Vice-President, Secretary, President-Elect, President and currently Past President.  My year as Vice-President was a lot of work but it was super fun because I planned two conferences with my super cool friend, Brenda Hicks.

Sara Vancil

University of Kansas

Meet the Board Member: KASFAA Treasurer Debbie Brewer – Show me the Money!!

Deb Brewer-D1

As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

The people I have come in contact have made the most impact on me – I have worked with some truly amazing students along the way. I have had the benefit of working with some really wonderful co-workers. I have worked with some really amazing people in the professional organizations associated with financial aid.

The thing that has changed the most in this profession since I started 20+ years ago is the student loan industry. When I started, the FFEL program was prominent and we had different relationships with lenders and guarantor agencies.

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

I would say to approach their tasks as not just tasks. There is usually a result that we are aiming towards with every task we do. I would say try to enjoy your job. Try to make things better than they were before you touched them.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

My mentor was Julie Cooper (my first director). She told me to not wear my emotions on my sleeves. Her and I were very different people and she taught me so much. She taught me to be tolerant and understanding while maintaining and upholding the rules.

How do you see this profession in 5 years? 10 years?

In 5 years, I see this profession being even more automated than it is now. In 10 years, I have no idea. All I can see when I look ahead at 10 years is retirement.

How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull? 

There isn’t a lull anymore. But in the case if there was, I would clean off my desk.

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

I admire my father the most. He is a man that never compromised on his morals. He always tells the truth and has always been hardworking and trustworthy.

What do you dislike doing? Professionally or personally or both?

Personally, I do not like cleaning bathrooms!!!! Professionally, I do not like to collect money from students.

What do you like to do in your free time, either Indoors or Outdoors?

I like to run and exercise and garden (in nice weather). I like to crochet, knit, go to the movies and hang out with my husband. I love spending time with my grown children and my brand-new grandbabies.

What gets you excited about life?

I love being a mom. It is one of my favorite things in life. Being a mom to grown children can be very rewarding. It can also be difficult as I don’t ever want my children to go through hard times. But watching them spread their wings and fly is really rewarding.

What’s your favorite time of day?

My favorite time of the day is when I have competed a task and can feel like I accomplished something. When I am not at work, my favorite time of day is when I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. I love my coffee!

Any thing exciting you’d like to share….

I recently became a grandma to the most amazingly beautiful twin baby girls, Mila and Aria. Nobody prepared me for the beauty of being a grandparent. I am a very young grandparent. The love felt for a grandchild is like nothing I have ever known.

Meet the Board Members: Ashley Jost – Vice President and Conference Planning Co-Chair

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As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

The biggest impact, on an internal scale, would be system changes. We had a major interface transition last year. It always seems like a big hurdle and it can take months to accomplish. However, patience is key! I have to remind myself that it will all be “OK” in the end, even if it seems like the world is crashing today.

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

Be open and ready for change! Keeping an open mind and being adaptable are two qualities that will keep you successful. Also, don’t forget to give yourself credit for what you know. The amount of information you learn and retain can be overwhelming! You will be surprised sometimes by how much you actually know and how much you can truly help your students. Take advantage of opportunities to increase that knowledge, either by attending a conference or by being involved and expanding your network.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

I have not really had a single mentor, but I was blessed to come into an office with many great people full of years of financial aid experience!

How do you see this profession in 5 years? 10 years?

I see things moving more electronic. The Federal Government has made many recent strides to “advance” the FAFSA process and incorporate mobile technology. Financial aid should be no different than what you see when you access your bank or mortgage information. I see financial aid becoming more of a forethought rather than an afterthought when students prepare for college. Things will happen faster and be visible instantly… at your fingertips.

How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull?

There is always something to do in our world. But, if there is downtime, I like having that opportunity to take a closer look at process improvement and to be creative. This can also be a great time to refresh, schedule a webinar, or take a walk!

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

Personally, my Grandma… she is 94 and is probably outside gardening as I write this! She is an amazing, beautiful person inside and out. She is such a motivated, positive and strong woman. Seeing her in action inspires me to live life to the fullest and to treat every day as a gift!

What do you dislike doing? Professionally or personally or both?

Having to remind my kids to take their shoes to their room every night. 😊

 

What do you like to do in your free time, either Indoors or Outdoors?

I love to cook and entertain! If I have a chance, I am outside!!! I really enjoy taking family vacations too!

 

What gets you excited about life?

I get excited about home projects and upcoming vacations! It is always good to have something to look forward to in life!

 

What’s your favorite time of day?

Early mornings and late nights! Maybe not on the same day.

 

Any thing exciting you’d like to share….

Excited to serve as co-Chair of Conference Planning! We are going to have an amazing conference in Topeka next April… You do not want to miss it!