The Pell Grant Is A Changin’

By: Brenda Hicks, Government Relations Committee Chair

The Pell Grant – It’s A Changin’ (Again)

KASFAA BlogI’ve often heard it said that the most important skill a financial aid administrator can acquire is remembering what to forget.  Indeed, it is the changing nature of this business that keeps me engaged and interested.  There is always some new challenge around the corner.

And this past few weeks, that new thing has been the Pell Grant! Just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock – here is a brief update:  As reported in Today’s News on Friday, May 5, 2017 President Trump signed into law a spending package passed by Congress earlier in the week that included the restoration of the year-round Pell grant.  The bill also directed the Department of Education (ED) to issue guidance on year-round Pell not later than July 1, 2017.

The news spread like wildfire in the financial aid community sparking a letter to ED from NASFAA designed to ensure the community continues to have a voice in the implementation process in order to avoid the problems with the first stab at this beneficial provision just a few years ago.

The good news in all of this is that Congress, in this iteration of the fund tweak, has purposefully excluded any acceleration requirement and has emphasized the importance of allowing schools the flexibility of school choice concerning the assignment of the cross-over period. Yay!

The biggest thing on people’s minds right now is – WHEN? As written, the provision is effective starting in the 17-18 award year.  At least two institutions in Kansas have summer header programs, so for those two institutions, the 17-18 award year is NOW.  However, before you choke on your coffee remember that this is the national government.  In the world of moving vehicles, the government most closely resembles the large, 18-wheel semi-truck/trailer variety with a very large turning radius.  It’s not going to be speedy.

Most likely, and this opinion is seconded in last week’s NASFAA Off the Cuff released May 19, 2017, the earliest this provision will be enacted will be Summer 2018. For now – we are waiting for the initial guidance from ED and keeping our eye open for opportunities to weigh in.

BILL WATCH:  Last week’s Today’s News also mentioned two other bills of note.  One, the Perkins Loan Extension Act of 2017 was introduced by a bi-partisan group of legislators.  The bill would once again extend the Perkins Loan program for another two years in the hopes of keeping it alive through Reauthorization.  Another interesting development is the College Transparency Act of 2017 which would eliminate the federal ban on collecting student unit record data while protecting the privacy of individual students.

KASFAA at the State Capitol

Six KASFAA members were present on January 24, 2017 for the signing of a Proclamation by Governor Sam Brownback declaring February to be Financial Aid Awareness Month.  This is a great time to promote completion of the FAFSA with the students at your institutions.  Early FAFSA has become a reality, and with KASFAA training initiatives now occurring in October there is discussion that Financial Aid Awareness Month should correspond to that time frame. It seems that most of us would concur with that sentiment.

Attendees from left to right:  Cindy Kleinsorge, Tony Lubbers, Vanessa Jones, Tammy Higgins, Debbie Brewer, and Nathan Buchefinancial-aid-awareness-2017

To Train or Not To Train – Is It Even a Question?

By Aimee Campbell

In the ever changing world of financial aid, training is very important.  I am not convinced there isn’t a secret group at DOE that dreams up these changes year after year to keep us on our toes.  Just think of all the changes that DOE has implemented over the years… addition (and take away) of year round Pell, sequestration, no more subsidized loans for graduate students and PPY (can I get an Amen for that!) just to name a few.

 

In the name of training, I have complied a list of training opportunities for you to consider (some of these do have membership requirements)

  • RMASFAA Summer Institute. Spend a week learning the ins and outs of financial aid.  There are different tracks depending on your level of experience.  Class size is kept small and taught by two faculty who are well established in financial aid. You will work through sixteen different topics using the NASFAA University curriculum.
  • NASFAA University curriculum. You can purchase for the different subject areas a la cart.  Complete the self study guides and take the certification exam at your own pace.
  • There are conferences at the National, Regional and State levels you can attend throughout the year.
  • Webinars are offered through Department of Education and NASFAA.

 

Are you excited for training, but need something a little more budget friendly, like free?  Don’t worry, you have plenty of options that fall into that category as well!

  • Reading IFAP Handbook is a lot like curling up with your favorite financial aid book on a rainy day.  Break that bad boy out and read up on everything you would want to know about financial aid!
  • FSA Training. You can view all their archived materials. Just keep in mind the information was current at the time of posting and (of course) things might have changed.
  • Dear Colleague Letters. These are also archived for your enjoyment.  You can also find announcements made by FSA.
  • Federal Student Aid also has FSA Coach. You can chose your level of training from Basic to Intermediate to Advance.
  • Self-Assessment Guides from FSA are also a great tool.

 

Now that you are all excited about financial aid training, get out there and get started.  Do something each month, even each week, to keep up to date on the changes that are happening.  Telling your auditor “I didn’t know that” is not going to get you out of trouble.

NASFAA Leadership Conference

By Debbie Brewer

This will be my very first blog post.

So I thought my trip to Washington DC for the NASFAA Leadership conference was going to be like Reese Witherspoon in the movie Legally Blonde when she goes to Washington DC to fight for animal rights. I can say it was not like that at all.

I had never been to Washington DC before. The hotel and conference were in Arlington, VA. The hotel was wonderful and the people in the area were extremely helpful and kind. I was surprised as I walked around the area that you have to pay to park everywhere. You have to pay to park at the grocery store. I knew I was not in Kansas anymore.

I participated in the Association Management Pathway. I was teamed up with a great group of people. One of them was Vicki Kucera, the RMASFAA President Elect. I also worked with the incoming Utah state president and the incoming South Dakota state president. It was nice to work with other RMASFAA members. We were able to interact with NASFAA members from across the U.S.

We had engaging speakers that shared very pertinent information. There were plenty of opportunities for lively discussion and idea sharing. I left with many questions and a lot of great information. I had the benefit of attending while Brenda Hicks, current KASFAA president, was on the planning committee for the conference. We were able to share a dinner together and do some planning for the upcoming year. She has been a wonderful mentor this year.

My trip ended with visits to Capitol Hill. I have to admit that I was very nervous about it. There was no reason to be nervous. It was an honor to be in such a historical place. It was fun to recognize that we were actually the experts while talking to the representatives. Brenda and I visited Jerry Moran’s office and Pat Roberts’ office.

I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity.

Capitol hill visitCapital hill Brenda and I

Spring Conference Award Ceremony

Spring KASFAA has come and gone. It was an awesome few days jam packed full of good times and good take home information! The award banquet took place during the conference and we had some pretty important members to recognize! Please see the following award recipients:

10 Years of Service

Tamara Bright – Mid-America Nazarene University

Tricia Brothers – Tabor College

Aimee Campbell – Southwestern College

Kody Carlson – Kansas State University

Vicky Cooper – Emporia State University

Crystal Crank – Butler County Community College

Kara Hale – Neosho County Community College

Felicia Johnson – Kansas City KS Community College

Kathy Johnston – Labette Community College

Kelli Lowe-Heying – Credit World Services

Teresa Moore – Wichita State University

Penny Nemechek – Northwest Kansas Technical College

Lyndsi Romero – Central Christian College of Kansas

Janice Spencer – Friends University

Linda Spohn – ITT Technical Institute

Katie Starling – Kansas State University

 

15 Years of Service

Ruth Anderson – Johnson County Community College

Julia Blanken – Pittsburg State University

Kathleen Blau – Garden City Community College

Kelly Cole – Johnson County Community College

Donna Fisher – Seward County Community College

Karen Glenn – Johnson County Community College

Bruce Lopez – Credit World Services

Kristy Moreno – Johnson County Community College

Lina Ossiander – Kansas Board of Regents

Brandon Pierce – Friends University

Larry Ramos – Wichita State University

Diana VanDyke – Butler County Community College

Jennifer Zabokrtsky – Cloud County Community College

20 Years of Service

Kent Adams – Pratt Community College

Jan Batley – Mid-America Nazarene University

Debbie Bisch – Dodge City Community College

Stephanie Covington – University of Kansas

Tony Graber – Bethel College

Cynthia Kleinsorge – Johnson County Community College

Ralph LoBosco – US Department of Education

Tony Lubbers – Friends University

Amy Moeder – Fort Hays State University

Valerie Poulson – University of Kansas Medical Center

25 Years of Service

Sara Honeck – University of Kansas Medical Center

Jan Horosz – Johnson County Community College

Diane Lindeman – Kansas Board of Regents

Harlan Plunkett – Mid America Nazarene University

Mary Frances Riner – University of Kansas

Kelly Twombly – Highland Community College

30 Years of Service

Keith Fitzsimmons – University of Kansas Medical Center

Retirement Recognition

Kathleen Blau – Garden City Community College

Jane Burgess – Hutchinson Community College

Jolene Clark – Cloud County Community College

Gail Palmer – Washburn University

Nancy Seal – Labette County Community College

Special Recognition

Paula Gordon – ATAC Corporation

Hall of Fame 

Linda Oldham Burns

Meritorious Achievement

Gary Bateman

Lois Madson

Deborah Byers Outstanding Service

Keith Fitzsimmons

Committee of the Year

Training Committee

Big congrats to Keith Fitzsimmons on his Tri-fecta! Thanks to the Awards Committee for putting together a great ceremony to recognize these fine KASFAA folks. We are a rare bread and deserve a little recognition!

IMG_2392_2The KASFAA Newbies! Welcome!