Surprise!

By: Keith Fitzsimmons

Aren’t surprises fun? Well most anyway. After months of cold and wet weekends, we had a beauty about three weeks ago and wow! All of the flowers popped overnight, my dear wife Laura said the car in front of her at Starbucks anonymously paid for her fake coffee drink, and I got an invitation to speak at a school in Texas.

Yep lots of good stuff.

This week, I was scheduled to attend a meeting about our med student loan program. Pretty routine stuff, just scheduled maintenance if you will. Our Financial Aid Director, Sara Honeck, was in charge and with no pressing business, cancelled the meeting with this note:

“, so let’s go ahead and cancel the meeting.   Enjoy the sunshine and try to get over to Wendy’s for a Frosty with this new found time.  J”

One of the staff that was not part of the meeting sent a semi tongue-in-cheek text to Sara asking, “Where’s our Frosty’s?”

A few minutes later Sara shows up in our office with a surprise!

 

KFitzsimmonsSara then posted this:

“You all deserve it!  You help us out all the time, far more than we do for you.  Enjoy the rest of the sunny day!”

What a way to fill our hearts with delight and stomachs with ice cream (or whatever a Frosty is).

So the KU Med Center Office of Student Accounting (L-R: Diana Hayslip, Lisa Arnold, Keith Fitzsimmons, and Steve Levy) say thank you to Sara Honeck for fun, and tasty surprise.

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Time to Volunteer!

By Nichole Carver

It’s that time of year again! What time, you may ask? Well, that would be committee volunteer time! KASFAA wants you for one of the many committee’s that help to serve our members. Go to http://www.kasfaa.org, click on Forms and you will find the 2018-2019 Volunteer Form and right next to it is the Committee Information List that tells you about each of the committees. If you want a more in-depth look, you can check out the Committee Handbooks under the Inside KASFAA tab.

Following up that sales pitch, here is why I volunteer:

I am not a really social person. I get very nervous at the thought of having to introduce myself and interact with people who don’t already know me. Speech was, by far, my least favorite class in school. Anytime I had to stand up in front of a group of people (any size really, it doesn’t matter), I would simply turn red, hope that my notes were in order, and try really hard not to make eye contact. That has not changed a whole lot over the years, but something else has. It started with my receipt of one of the Summer Institute Scholarships a few years ago. I joined the Conference Planning Committee as part of my acceptance of that scholarship. I met several people and learned so much more about our state organization and had an absolute blast. In part it was because of getting to know people who were in my same career field, and getting that comradery and moral support, having go-to in-the-know-people, and learning about a part of our organization that I knew nothing about before-hand all made me want to do it again. I didn’t even have a preference on what committee I landed on, just that I did get involved.

There were actually multiple options where I could simply participate (and that was honestly all that I was looking for) but there was also one that allowed me to be a co-chair. I’ll admit, it seemed very daunting. More than that though, it sounded so exciting! I was terrified thinking about all the ways I could mess this up. Would I be the worst co-chair ever? Probably not. Would I make a mistake that everyone would find out about and never let me live down? Probably. So many negative things that ran through my mind as I contemplated this. Then, I just stopped that train before it got carried away. Thinking negatively almost guarantees a ‘terrible, horrible, no good very bad’ experience for everyone, not just me. I had so much fun the year before, would this different committee be as much fun? The answer was and is yes! I decided I wanted to do it and started trying to figure out how I could do things as co-chair to start amping myself up for what was to come. I jumped in knowing that I was setting a tone for this committee and what I hoped we could accomplish together and in the future.

Following that ramble, fast forward to the day, where as a co-chair and incoming chair I was privileged to sit in on the Board meeting with the outgoing and incoming Board members. I ‘know’ several people here from having seen them in passing at conferences over the years, and maybe interacting with a couple of them in various aspects of my committee involvement, but I don’t really ‘know’ them. Sitting here waiting to start, I listened as several individuals got caught up since the last time they spoke either relating to professional situations they were dealing with or personal stuff, in addition to the pieces of small talk filling time until it was time to get started. I was intimidated. Thoroughly. There was, and is, absolutely no reason for that. These people are so kind, and welcoming, and involving, that nervousness or intimidation are a complete and utter waste of time, energy, and sanity. For anyone who doesn’t know either because you’ve never thought about it, been curious about it, or been a part of it, there is so much careful planning and consideration that goes in to making sure that we have resources to do things that help enrich our ability to excel in our fields and have people that we can go to for questions.

Probably the biggest benefit that I have come away with from participating in one committee, is the confidence to talk to other administrators in the financial aid world whether they were on the committee with me or not. As I stated earlier, I’m a shy, reserved person. If I don’t know you, it is unlikely that I would just randomly come up and start talking about session topics, committee opportunities, an issue I ran into recently, or anything else. I’m not going to say that this has changed. It hasn’t. However, I have managed to find a balance in that, by meeting more aid administrators who have a wealth of knowledge, I know there is someone who gets it and that I can talk to if I run into things I don’t know anything (or very much) about. The amount of stress that that simple concept took away from me, was not something I was entirely prepared for. All it was, was knowing that I had people to email or call when I felt in over my head for any reason. It lifted such a weight while it simultaneously made me feel as though I was gaining the knowledge I need(ed).

Almost done, I promise! Sitting in on my first board meeting, really opened my eyes. It truly does take all of us to make this work. There are so many talents, strengths, and amazing personalities that are working to make sure that we as a state have what we need to be better aid administrators and have a connection with each other that we know we can turn to if we need to.

Please consider joining one of our committees. If you have any questions, you can email or call on any of us fellow KASFAA members. Hope to ‘see’ you soon!

Time to Advocate

By Brenda Hicks

Advocacy

Reauthorization is getting a little traction, most recently in the form of the PROSPER Act which passed out of the House Education committee a couple of weeks before Christmas.

What does this mean to you? It is time, friends, to engage in advocacy.

Step 1: Inform yourself. NASFAA’s advocacy page is open to everyone, members or not. Visit their page on the PROSPER Act and read their very good analysis on the aspects of the bill. When you do this, you will find yourself wanting to move to Step 2.

Step 2: Reach out to your federal representatives in Congress and tell them the parts of the bill you can support and the parts that you cannot support. Give them examples and case studies from your campus to help legislators understand how their theories will play out in reality.

To help you with your efforts, the KAFSAA Government Relations committee has updated the KASFAA Legislative webpage. You will find links to your Congressional leadership’s webpages, emails and newsletters as well as their office addresses and phone numbers. If you don’t know which of the four House representatives is yours, click on the district for a link to the district’s map.

If you have questions, need guidance on how to get started, or just need a little help figuring out the best way to connect, feel free to reach out to the KASFAA Government Relations committee members:

Chair – Brenda Hicks, Southwestern College Co-Chair – Kimberly Cashman, Cloud County Community College

Erin Anderson, Kansas City Kansas Community College Keith Fitzsimmons, University of Kansas Medical Center Cindi Kriss, Colby Community College Diane Lindeman, Kansas Board of Regents Sheelu Surender, Wichita State University

February is Financial Aid Month

by Kimberly Cashman

February is Financial Aid Awareness month…What are you doing to help support the cause?

January has seen many things: weird weather patterns that go from blowing snow to sunny skies within a day or two, the end of Winter Break and the return of students, and record numbers of illness in Kansas. Despite these obstacles that we all have experienced over the course of the last month, there is a bright spot coming. February is Financial Aid Awareness month and the Government Relations committee and KASFAA has a question…

What are you and/or your institution doing to help promote financial aid awareness this month?

To help you answer this question, I can tell you what the Government Relations committee has been up to and what my institution (Cloud County Community College) is planning.

  • Since the end of October, the Government Relations committee has been working towards obtaining the proclamation of the Kansas governor to declare February Financial Aid Awareness month in Kansas. On January 26th, members of KASFAA went to Topeka and was present during the signing of the proclamation by Governor Brownback.
  • Our committee will also be working on several blog posts that will debut during the month of February to give all financial aid administrators advice on where to go for updates or advice within the KASFAA, RMASFAA, and NASFAA.
  • Here at Cloud, our office will kick off financial aid awareness by presenting useful information to student enrolled in our College Skills course on February 1st. This presentation will help give guidance on what information is necessary to complete the FAFSA, what funds are available, and how Financial Aid funds work and are awarded/disbursed in relation to other funds such as athletic and foundation scholarships.
  • For the rest of the month, our office will be working towards making 2 contacts to our local state and federal representatives to help bring further awareness and call to action changes that should be made to help the field advance.

Hopefully these events help give you some direction on what you and/or your office can do to help bring awareness to Financial Aid during the month of February. If you and/or your institution have events or actions planned for the month of February to help bring awareness to Financial Aid, please do share these actions on the listserv by emailing finaid-l@lists.psu.edu and using the heading/subject Financial Aid Awareness Activity/Event. These recorded and combined efforts can help show our government representatives that we are a community dedicated to our work, our students, and our institutions and are a force to be reckoned with when we come together!

Perkins is Far From Dead

By: Keith Fitzsimmons

‘The reports of my death is an exaggeration’ wrote Mark Twain in his comment about bad follow-up of the article posted in the New York Journal on June 2, 1897.

 

You see it’s good follow-up that has kept Perkins alive. The strategy is to get Perkins extended to fill the gap before the PROSPER act kicks in for 2019-20 (or the more likely 2020-21). The target is the January 19th Omnibus bill. The more support, the better the chances for Perkins to be extended.

 

So what can you do:

1) Go to the COHEAO website, click on ‘Key Ways to Support Perkins Now’ and do some of the steps. www.coheao.com

 

2)Figure out how much your students will suffer if the Perkins loan is eliminated and there is no replacement program available. Remind them that the cancellation benefits keep nurses and allied health professions working in hometowns in Kansas.

 

3) Contact both Senator Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran and ask them why that are not cosponsors of S.1808 – Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017.

 

4) If you live in the 4th Kansas Congressional Distract, contact Representative Estes and ask him why he is the only Representative from Kansas that is not a cosponsor of H.R.2482 – Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017. Remind his that the Perkins cancellation benefits could keep Nurses or Allied Health Professionals working at hospitals in Hutchinson or Wichita, clinics in Pratt and Arkansas City, or medical practices in Winfield, El Dorado, Kingman, Medicine Lodge, or Kinsley.

 

So be a part of good follow-up and be an advocate for our students. Even if your school does not have Perkins, I’ll bet some of your family, neighbors, or friends have current or future students that this will impact directly.

 

I’m Just a Bill

By Brenda Hicks, Chair Government Relations Committee

ISIS

<Queue Music>  PROSPER Act:  I’m just a bill, I am only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill….

One of the things I love about being in financial aid is that I get to use the skills I learned as a child on Saturday morning sitting in my pajamas eating Cheerios and watching School House Rock films during the breaks between episodes of Bugs Bunny and Mighty Isis. 

For those of you too young to remember these wonderful little educational videos – allow this link to YouTube to catch you up to speed:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0 …and once you are done with that you should definitely seek out the updated version sung by Deluxx Folk Implosion along with Blind Melon’s “Three is a Magic Number” and Skee-Lo’s “The Tale of Mr. Morton’” all released on the 1996 tribute album Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks.  “Mr. Morton is the subject of a sentence, what the predicate says he does…..” 

But I digress. 

Bottom line, during periods of Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (which doesn’t happen all that often), things can get a little confusing.  You will begin to hear about things that are “in discussion only” either because they are part of a proposal for a bill or because they are things that people are lobbying to get into the final version of the bill.  It is important to remember during ALL of these moments that a bill is just that….a bill.  It is not considered law (and therefore something you need to implement) until President Trump signs something.  Dear friends, we have a long way to go before that happens.

What you can and should do during these moments is stay in the conversation and let your voice be heard.  How can our representatives in Washington do their job well if the people they are representing remain silent?  Remember that YOU ARE AN EXPERT in the field of financial aid.  You are also an advocate for the students you serve.  If you can lend your college’s support in your remarks – do it (but get permission first).  If you want to just speak as just you, private American citizen, speak without mentioning who you work for.  But speak.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by the KASFAA Government Relations Committee.