Volunteering for KASFAA

I began my career in financial aid in May 2007 after spending time in admissions and career services. It was a great decision, and I love what I do here at the University of Kansas!

One of the great things about working in financial aid here in Kansas is that we get a chance to be a part of KASFAA. Our association is active, engaged, and relevant. It is a way for us as financial aid administrators to stay connected to one another, to get ongoing and dynamic training and to advocate for our students.

In addition, KASFAA provides us an opportunity to develop leadership, communication and teamwork skills through volunteering. It can be a way to start involvement in our profession before moving on to roles in our regional and national associations. Or volunteering in KASFAA can be an end goal in itself, providing our time and energy first and foremost to our local, state organization.Volunteered happier

I started volunteering with KASFAA by being a committee member. I was a part of the Welcome committee and the Publicity & Awareness committee. I got to know a little more about the association and contributed to those committees in a way that did not require a huge time commitment. I was able to provide my ideas and input to the committee chairs, which felt rewarding.

My next level of involvement was getting involved in the Training committee, specifically with the High School Counselor trainings that this committee organizes. I participated on the team for two years and presented at three trainings in Fall 2012 and three in Fall 2013. Being involved on this committee required more of a time and energy commitment than previous committees but it also was focused all in the fall semester. I loved being able to travel to interact with counselors in the state and provide them with vital financial aid training.

I then stepped up to a committee chair role, leading the Publicity & Awareness committee for a year. Being a committee chair helped me to improve on my delegation skills as well as my leadership skills. I think running that committee was my first opportunity to run a meeting via conference call. Sounds silly, but it’s an important skill!Star Trek

In 2014, I took the plunge and agreed to run for Vice President. The VP of KASFAA is responsible for planning the program for both the fall training and the spring conference. That person works with the President-Elect to put on two high-quality training opportunities for our members—a very important responsibility! This position gave me a chance to put my organizational skills and attention to detail to work. I am proud of the program I put together for the Dodge City and Wichita conferences last year.

Finally, this year I am serving as Secretary of KASFAA. This role is more laid-back but is still a critical member of the KASFAA board. I keep the minutes from our Board and Business Meetings up-to-date on our website and serve as a voting member of the board as we make decisions about the future of the association.

I want to encourage everyone in KASFAA to get involved in whatever way suits you best. I challenge you to get involved on some level! You can serve on a committee that fits your skills, interests and available time. Please review the committee and officer list at http://kasfaa.org/docs/forms/KASFAACommitteeList.pdf. If you want to give even more time and energy to KASFAA, consider running for an officer position at some point!Elf

You can submit our Volunteer Form at http://kasfaa.org/docs/forms/memVolunteer.html. The next Volunteer cycle would be April 2016 – April 2017 so start talking to your supervisor about your intention to volunteer next year. Put it in your annual evaluation that you will get involved in our association!

Debbie Brewer, our current President-Elect, will be collecting these volunteer forms to fill next year’s committees.   If you’re interested in running for an officer position, please let Brenda Hicks, our current President, know of your interest. Brenda will be filling the slate next summer for an election that would choose new officers for the April 2017 – April 2018 year.

Happy Volunteering!

Sara Vancil
University of Kansas

RMASFAA Summer Institute Application OPEN!

Calling all people who would like to attend the one-of-a-kind, nationally recognized, FANTABULOUS RMASFAA Summer Institute on June 12-17, 2016!  YOU TOO can win free registration and money for travel expenses to the 2016 Summer Institute by winning a KASFAA scholarship!!!!!  KASFAA regularly sponsors four lucky individuals to spend a week on the beautiful Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden Colorado.  Whether you want to dig deeper into the CORE regulations of financial aid, think about what it takes to be a Director of Financial Aid, or connect with a small group of individuals with like minds and professional goals, this premier summer experience is well worth the week it takes to participate. 

 What’s the catch?  If selected, KASFAA will sponsor you in exchange for a little of your time spent in service to KASFAA as an officer or committee chair.  Scholarship forms are downloadable from the KASFAA website:  http://www.kasfaa.org/docs/toc_onlineforms.html.  Scholarship applications will be accepted through January 31.  Winners of the scholarships will be chosen during the February board meeting and publicly recognized at the April conference.


KASFAA FAFSA Completion Campaign 2016

I am so excited to announce the next chapter in the life of FASFA completion!!

College Goal Sunday events have been taking place in Kansas since 1999. Things have certainly changed since that first event – we now have the internet, the FAFSA form is online and easier for the student and families to fill out, and information is abundant about financial aid via internet.

After much thought and deliberation, KASFAA determined that the College Goal Sunday events that we have been hosting throughout the state in February needed a much different look and feel. We were not reaching many students or families for the amount of time and efforts of all of our volunteers. KASFAA does still support the FAFSA Completion project but it was time to reimagine it.

So, that brings us to today. A task force was formed and we have determined what we would like the new campaign to look like.

Drumroll please….. we will be having many, many events across the state that are helping students and families complete their FAFSA form. Many of you are already having events where you are assisting in this task, many of you are involved with a high school helping their families with this task, and TRIO and AVID programs are also helping out with this most important task!! In the past, these events were taking place in addition to College Goal Sunday.

So, starting with 2016-17 FAFSA season, we will be gathering a list of all the events taking place and putting them on our website. We will be promoting the website to the families of Kansas as a great resource to find an event near them to attend.

And the task force is presenting a challenge to the KASFAA community as well. We are challenging you to start working your efforts with the community around you towards FAFSA Completion. Maybe consider reworking the financial aid presentations that you currently do at the high schools to include some hands on time with the computer. At least the families could sign up for a FAFSA ID while you are there. Maybe consider having a FAFSA Completion time at the high school during the spring semester. We are hoping that a shift in our thinking will allow us to reach more students at events or even remotely. Also, it is time to think about your current students on campus. They might need a reminder or an event to complete the FAFSA.

I will be sharing more information about this new exciting campaign at the Fall training in Salina later in the month.

And from the members of the task force, we are excited for the new path that we are taking in Kansas!!

–  Submitted by Linda Oldham Burns

Inflection, Empathy, and Expert Expectations: Tips for Navigating Difficult Conversations

Submitted by Diane Borchardt, Senior Marketing Associate, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

Difficult conversations in the financial aid office often arise because they start with an emotional topic: money. Now add the fact that your job entails helping students while still complying with external guidelines and rules. The entire process, from completing the FASFA™, to making tuition payments, to selecting the best loan repayment option can be emotionally challenging for students and their families. This heightened anxiety can play itself out in your office or on the phone when parents and students express their frustration. Here are some top tips to help you navigate difficult conversations, while still providing commendable customer service.

Elevate Your Inflection
In customer service, how you say something is just as important as what you say. The peaks and valleys in your voice, also known as inflection, can greatly impact the conversations you have with your students.

  • Smile—yes, actually smile!—when you answer the phone. When you smile, the soft palate at the back of your mouth raises and makes the sound waves more fluid. Smiling also works for face-to-face conversations.
  • Listen to a recording of your voice for an honest impression of how you project yourself to other people. If you’re not able to record yourself in a real customer service situation, consider creating a role-play exercise for your team.
  • Lubricate your vocal cords by drinking water during tough conversations. Liquids can help you maintain a smooth and consistent tone. Holding a beverage during an in-person meeting also provides a tactile focal point to help you remain calm.
  • Breathe with long, slow, deep breaths to improve the inflection in your voice. When you’re upset, breathing becomes quicker and shallower, which causes your vocal cords to tighten—making your voice go up and sound strained.

Heighten Your Empathy
Empathy—or the art of seeing a situation through someone else’s eyes—is another essential component of stellar customer service. Although empathy doesn’t come naturally to everyone, it can be learned through a few simple steps.

  • Show that you are actively listening to the person by nodding your head frequently, verbally acknowledging what the speaker said from time to time, and maintaining eye contact.
  • Ask questions to obtain as much background information as needed. “Listen to learn” rather than proactively preparing your response as the person is talking. Take notes as needed so you’ll be ready with follow-up questions.
  • Agree with the person’s concerns—when appropriate—and try to see things from their point of view. Use phrases such as “I’m sorry you’re frustrated”. Consider if you would also feel upset if you were in the same situation.
  • Remember that although the person’s frustrations may appear to be directed toward you, don’t take it personally. You are simply the person they are venting to at this point in time.

Set Expert Expectations
An expert is a person with extensive knowledge, experience, and/or ability in a particular subject or area of study. In this way, you and your team members are uniquely qualified to counsel students who have financial aid-related questions or problems.

  • Respond with understanding rather than just citing rules and policies. Be firm and establish yourself as a trusted expert. As a last resort, pull in another team member or escalate the situation to your supervisor.
  • Provide a list of possible next steps, including an example of how you were able to resolve a similar issue in the past. Communicate that the situation is not unique and that others have encountered—and overcome—similar issues.
  • Stick to your script and don’t let raised voices or heightened emotions pull you off your game or put words in your mouth. Avoid the customer service pitfall known as anger mountain. If you remain calm, the person is more likely to remain calm.
  • Lighten the mood with a personal story or anecdote. When used judiciously—and avoiding any hint of sarcasm—humor can help disperse tension and build a relationship with someone based on trust and liking.

Diane Borchardt is a Senior Marketing Associate with Great Lakes, serving schools in Kansas, Arkansas, Minnesota and Utah. You can reach Diane at 888.502.5905, or by email at dborchardt@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at schools.mygreatlakes.org.

New faces in the Southwestern College Financial Aid Office!

Southwestern College welcomes two new faces to their office, and we at KASFAA can’t wait to extend a warm welcome to them at future KASFAA events!

Vaine Lutz is now working in the Wichita office and comes to us from Wichita State University via Wichita Area Technical College. She worked in financial aid as a student worker at WSU and is proving herself to be a valuable asset to the SC team.

Kitra Terrell is our new Financial Aid Administrative Assistant. Kitra is a Winfield native who has come back to the area to be closer to family. She is doing a fantastic job with the students and is also going to school in the evenings to finish her degree.

Welcome, ladies!

Two new members join the Benedictine College Financial Aid Staff

Benedictine College would like to welcome its newest members to the Financial Aid Office.  

Dione Mispagel has joined the staff as Financial Aid Specialist. This is Dione’s first experience in Financial Aid. 

Tim Wolfe has joined the staff as Associate Director. Tim has previous experience at Benedictine College in the Finance Office.  

Both are alums of Benedictine College and are great additions to the Financial Aid Dept. at Benedictine. 

KASFAA looks forward to welcoming Dione and Tim at future KASFAA events!