Happy Financial Aid Day

FAFSA | Know Your Meme

To all you beautiful financial aid people…

From those that are student facing all the way back to those that hide out in their FA bunker!

We see you!!

We thank you!!

Financial Aid Appreciation day? You mean every day - old man boxer | Meme  Generator

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

Meet the Board Member – Danielle Sullivan – Secretary

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 would say what has changed most is the slow transition from manual and paper processes to automated and electronic processes. I’m a firm believer in automation so that we can spend more time helping students, doing outreach, and solving problems.

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

You can be a leader at ANY level. It doesn’t matter if you work at a front desk or you’re a director. Find an opportunity to lead within your position. Also, you will NEVER be caught up, so take the time you need to work on important tasks, and most importantly take time off.

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?

Far too many. Everyone in the KU Financial Aid Office & JCCC Financial Aid Office, and especially all of the Graduate Higher Ed interns I mentored and my Work-Study students. I learned A LOT from our students. Special shout out to the original counselor group: Jenny Hagen-Gay, Josė Trujillo, and Elizabeth Mendoza.

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

Ernest Shackleton. He was a polar explorer in the early 1900’s, and his leadership style is still being taught today. He led a crew of 28 in what was supposed to be the first attempt of crossing Antarctica on foot (The race to the South Pole had already been won). Their ship (the Endurance) was crushed in an ice floe off the coast of Antarctica. The crew had to drag life boats across the ice and float helplessly on ice floes for hundreds of miles. They managed to find land and set up camp on an island only to realize that they were on a section of the continent where they would never be rescued because ships would never pass by this area. So he did the only thing he could do. He handpicked a crew to take a perilous open boat journey (in a teeny-tiny lifeboat) almost 1,000 miles to a blip of an island – South Georgia Islands. He picked this small crew incredibly strategically. There were some trouble makers in the group, so they were some of the 5 men chosen to go on the boat journey so they could not stir up trouble at the camp. He left his second mate in charge of the Elephant Island camp and bid adieu to the men left on the island. The men spent 17 days in the roughest sea in the world in an open life boat…in the freezing cold, traversing almost 1000 miles. He and the 5 men made it to their destination – South Georgia Island, only to find they were on the wrong side of the island. They then had to cross an entire mountain range that ran down the middle of the island to get to the whaling station on the other side. It took almost 2 years and 3 attempts to rescue his men from Elephant Island, but he did, and not one man lost his life. It’s an incredible story of perseverance, heroism, and leadership.

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

I started off as Welcome Committee Chair (which is now part of Membership). I served on Outreach Training for many years, chairing it one year. I am currently KASFAA Secretary. Definitely Outreach Training. I love training others on financial aid.

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I do a financial aid night at my High School (Abilene, KS) EVERY year, no matter how busy I am. I love going back and helping students and families complete the FAFSA.

Last but by no means least …

Mr. Liam the cat with his stylish jean jacket.

KASFAA Outreach Training – Busting Unique Situations, DACA, & Foster Care Q’s

The Outreach Training Committee hosted their first training session on Tuesday, September 21st.  In this session, Yuliana Reyes, ESU, and Kimberly Cashman covered DACA students, foster care, and other unique student and family situations as well as how to file for federal financial aid.

More than 75 people joined the virtual training via Zoom and the committee has received excellent feedback so far from attendees. 

Throughout the year, the Outreach Training Committee will host a total of six training sessions and they will all be following an 80s movie theme!  Yuliana and Kimberly picked Ghostbusters for their movie and featured a few classic Ghostbuster monsters during their PowerPoint session.

There are five more trainings scheduled over the next several months and we can’t wait to see all of the 80s references they pull out! Check out the “Counselor Training” page under the High School Resources section on the KASFAA website for future dates and covered topics.

Meet the Board Member – Cindy Kleinsorge – Vice 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?

I believe the people have impacted me the most within this profession. As a newbie, they took me under their wing and nurtured me so I could have an impact on others. Folks in financial aid have to learn so much and stay abreast of so many changes that happen in the blink of an eye. The helpful and caring attitude that each person I’ve met within this industry has showed me speaks highly of all of us. And…in acting this way, it flows down to the students we assist in order to make them successful and impact them for the future. I believe the rules and regulations and the way in which we deliver financial aid has changed the most. Some rules have become more lenient, some more stringent. We’ve moved from paper FAFSAs to electronic and paper checks to electronic deposits; I remember lines down the hallway for a half- mile it seemed on refund day waiting to pick up their paper checks.

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

Be diligent, and hardworking. Ask lots of questions but learn the information you need to know to be good at what you do. Think outside the box and ask more questions of students as many times they do not give you the full scoop. Be compassionate and caring!

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 many mentors. A year after I started in Financial Aid I attended Summer Institute. From that time on, I was hooked and wanted to be involved as much as I could. I met Julie Esau and Cheryl Bellinger that week. And my teachers were Janet Dodson and Bob Walker. And still to this day, I color code my spreadsheets (thanks Janet). Other people who’ve encouraged me along the way are Myra Pfannenstiel, Tony Tanking, Debbie Brewer, Ashley Jost, Robb Cummings, Bruce Lopez, Diana VanDyke, and Kristi Blevins, I know I’m missing some folks, but I hope you know who you are. I would not have been able to step out of my comfort zone and participate as I have without the support of these people. I’m forever grateful and very blessed.

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

I would have to say my parents. We never lacked for anything even though my parents were not wealthy in the financial sense. They raised me to be independent and hardworking and I hope I’ve made them proud. I probably wouldn’t be in this field today if it wasn’t for my dad. I was ready to come back to work part time after the kiddos went off to school. My dad was an adjunct Chemistry professor here at JCCC. I asked about job openings. He said sure “go look at the board”, which was how jobs were posted then outside the HR office. A part time position was available, I applied and was hired. I started out working on the Perkins Loan program. And 25 years later, moving through a few other positions, I’m now the Scholarship Coordinator. My dad is no longer with us but my mom continues to be amazed at all I do and continues to encourage. I will always be in their debt.  

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I have two amazing children, Sarah, 31 who is a graphic designer and does phenomenal work (ask my co-workers) and our son, Matt, just turned 29, and works in logistics. He will be getting married in October to Mariah and we are super excited for them as well!

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

I was hooked after attending Summer Institute and have never looked back.

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

In my years of KASFAA involvement, I have been Membership chair, worked on the Awards committee, Registration chair twice, Association News and Publicity Chair, involved with Conference Planning in various roles, a member of Fiscal Officers, Secretary and Vice President twice (this is my second time around). Kansas has a great financial aid organization. We are known within our region as go getters. We’ve had several people within our region move into RMASFAA and NASFAA positions and make our state proud!! People in Kansas work so well together, no matter what the school or the rivalry, the bottom line is to provide financial assistance to those that need it. I’ve loved every minute of being part of this great organization!! It’s been a fun ride!

Fall 2021 Professional Development Training

KASFAA’s Professional Development Committee works hard every year to provide us with quality training opportunities, often at reduced costs. 

This year’s fall training will be a NASFAA presentation on R2T4s and will take place Tuesday, October 19th at 10:00am via ZOOM.  More information regarding registration will be released soon.  Keep an eye on our Professional Development Training webpage under “Events” for details as the training gets closer.

Don’t forget to thank the committee members who put together this event together for us!  Hope to see you all (via ZOOM) on October 19th!

Meet the Board Member – Crystal DeLong – Associate Member Representative

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?

So I moved to the lender side 2.5 years ago but spent the 18 years prior working in financial aid offices (starting at FHSU).  A LOT has changed in that time but I would tell you the 2 most impactful things that kept me in the aid office and have me still working in the industry are as follows:

  1. YOU!  These professional organizations have been a second family over the years and I have laughed, cried, vented, learned and stuck around because of all the fun.  KASFAA and other associations helped me learn my passion and gave me a support group to get through all the changes and challenging times.
  2. STUDENTS!  Helping students and parents see there is a way.  Helping them accomplish their goals and follow their dreams.  Seeing the excitement and energy on the 1st week of school and at graduation ceremonies literally brings tears to my eyes!  We really do make a difference!!!!

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

With compassion, empathy, a smile and lots of practice at taking deep breaths!  J  This world is soooooooo rewarding but also so challenging.  It’s almost a guarantee that you will get frustrated at some point and feel overwhelmed but in the words of Dory, “Just Keep Swimming”!  You are a world changer now and don’t take it lightly the impact your work has on future generations.

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?

Craig Karlin at Fort Hays State University was my first boss.  He dealt with my immaturity of being a 22 year old working at my alma mater, he taught me how to network by introducing me to some of the best people in the KASFAA and RMASFAA regions.  He showed me how to stay calm in the fires of financial aid.  And most importantly he showed me what it was to be a great boss and when I was a Director I think a lot of my management style was a direct reflection of him!!  Thanks Craig!

AND the one and only infamous Brenda Hicks…..Let’s just say she was on speed dial when I started as a Director at a small private University in MO at the age of 27!  I don’t think she realizes how much I appreciate all of the quick calls and emails that helped me figure out how to be a Director and how to master PowerFaids!!!  THANKS BRENDA!!! 

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally?

I admire soooo many people personally and professionally.  It’s really hard for me to pick just one.  But I will tell you that I lost an uncle to covid this past year who was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.  He was a hard headed, God-loving, strong willed, stubborn goofball and I didn’t realize just how much I truly admired him until he wasn’t here with us anymore.  RIP Uncle Paul, you are a legend in my eyes!

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

That’s a great question!  I was in KASFAA from 2005-2010 and can’t remember what I did on the board or committees back then exactly.  But I have recently been the Corporate Support Chair and Associate Delegate.  I’ve served on KASFAA, RMASFAA, MASFAP, and MASFAA in a variety of roles every year I’ve been in the industry and I don’t plan on stopping!!!  Oh, and I’m currently Summer Institute Chair for RMASFAA for 2022!!!  Hope to see you there! 😉

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I LOVE this career!  And I love sharing my favorite little man on many of our KASFAA zoom calls.  My 19 month old Tate is my #1 man these days (don’t tell my husband!) and he brings a smile to my face every day!

Meet the Board Member – Laura Weiss-Cook – President-Elect

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 learned so much from so many people – I wouldn’t be able to name them all. Many of them stressed the fact that you cannot possibly know everything about everything and to use the resources and training available.

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

Previously, the only position I have held within KASFAA was co-chair of the Membership Committee. I loved serving with that team and was really excited by my teammates’ work with mentorship. I am continually impressed with our profession’s commitment to grow and strengthen our members.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work and KASFAA?

Most of my time outside of work and KASFAA is spent literally chasing my 16-year-old daughter, Audrey, through fields to cheer her on at cross country meets. Thank goodness parents can cut across the fields/parks or I would NEVER keep up. We also own a fair trade boutique that promotes ethical and sustainable products. As a result, I spend many evenings and Saturdays doing administrative work for the store. My husband, Kevin, and I love to attend concerts and the theater together and play with our 14-month-old Bernedoodle, Eliza (named after female characters in two different musicals). The photo is a family photoshoot outtake because sometimes life (and work with students) is messy and not at all how we planned.

Meet the Board Member – Darcy Johnson – Past-President

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

The people. When I started in financial aid, almost all of my coworkers were very involved in KASFAA and I could sense their passion for the committees they were serving on. At my first KASFAA conference a co-worker, Thad Davidson, received the Outstanding Service Award and as I recall, there wasn’t a dry eye at our table. Our director at the time, Elaine Henrie, made sure to introduce me to as many people as she could, and I felt so welcomed. I also witnessed everyone happy to see each other and catch up. When an organization can evoke that sense of belonging, I wanted to be a part of it…plus I like hugs! I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity of the awards committee that year, and I knew that’s where I belonged, so I signed up immediately and three years later I was chairing that committee.

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

Take a breath, find humor as often as you can, you’ll never know everything, and you’ll need to tap in to your patient side. (August might not be the best time for me to answer this question. Ha ha!) Honestly, I would tell them to be prepared for the biggest learning curve of their life, but to hang in there because it is worth it to see the success of the students we helped get there. Start a SMILES folder to keep kudos (the good job kind, not the chocolate kind) in. On those really rough days go back and read through the times that people recognized you and appreciated you. (Shoutout to Connie Corcoran for that idea…I’ve used it lots over the years!) Make connections with your peers in KASFAA…the network we have is invaluable.

What are some of your favorite memories of past years being in the KASFAA organization?

Well one of my favorite memories I shared in the first answer. Getting to go to DC for the Leadership and Legislative Expo was an amazing experience. Receiving a SI scholarship was a great memory. The people, the learning, and the experiences are what make all of the memories standout.

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally?

I admire all members of KASFAA. We’ve had a rough couple years (who else thinks 2021 was worse than 2020?), but we stay committed (Literally? Figuratively? Take your pick J) and continue persevering to do what we do best: help the students succeed. Keep on keeping on. I believe in each of you and we’re here for each other!

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I finished a 1000 piece puzzle I started two weeks ago. That is the extent of excitement in my life at the moment.  😊

Here are some photos of cat lady progression 😝

Diana’s Virtual trip to NASFAA

As many of us know, this year’s NASFAA Conference was a little different with members participating in its first virtual version of the event.  Our own KASFAA Commander-in-Chief, Diana VanDyke, had an even more unique experience with the annual conference and has taken the time to share her perspective with us.  Read on to hear our President’s takeaways from the conference in her own words:

I was able to attend most of the NASFAA On-line Virtual Conference while I was also competing at Pinto World in Tulsa, OK.  Many of the sessions I attended in the stall barn sitting in front of the horse stalls.  Dream Racer was bored with the entire process but Cookie Monster was fascinated with the voices coming out of the box in my lap! 

I was able to sit in on Working to Eliminate Bias in Aid Administration, How Campuses Are Changing Post-Pandemic, The Intersection of Financial Aid & Financial Wellness Education, NSLDS Reporting & the National Student Clearinghouse, Effective Communication Tools in Critical Conversations, Pell for Incarcerated Students, Competency-Based Education: What’s Best For Your Institution, Ensuring Equity & Access Across All Underserved Student Profiles, Department of Ed Session & 20-21 Reflections, and Passing the Gavel & Where We’re Headed on Public Policy.

As an overall overview of the sessions I can say I was able to pick up a few ideas from the presenters and felt strongly that a lot of the presented material that was already implemented was already being handled correctly at our institutions.  Competency Based Education definitely brought on a groan. I felt like I would need more clarifying information BUT I was not able to stay for the Q & A on this one.  I would strongly encourage anyone that will possibly be dealing with incarcerated students to check out that recording of the Pell for Incarcerated Student session.  I felt like the presenters were able to clarify some of the ideas that I had felt fuzzy on prior to the session.  Not something that I would be dealing with very much on my campus so it may be redundant to someone that is already prepared in this area.  I agreed with many of the concepts in Post-Pandemic, Communication Tools, and the equity discussions but feel that our campuses are already handling these issues adequately. 

I appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference and even though the change in venue and dates made it a bit challenging, I am glad I was able to attend the sessions.  I really enjoyed the Tuesday night entertainment with Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos and wish that was something we could bring to our conference.  We may have to look into that and see if it is in the budget!

There are so many sessions to check out, it’s near impossible to catch them all.  Luckily for us, recordings of the original sessions are currently available to all registered attendees so you can sit in on the topics that you may have missed the first time around: https://www.nasfaa.org/conference

While we are still facing some unknowns in regards to the in-person vs. virtual future of our beloved conferences and events, it is reassuring to know that NASFAA’s content was as enlightening as usual despite the circumstances and that us Financial Aid Administrators are still a fun bunch!  I’m sure we are all hopeful that next June we can congregate again in Austin, Texas for the 2022 NASFAA Conference.

Courtney Stensaas

Meet the Board Member – Angela Zeorlin – Treasurer

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

At the time I gained membership onto KASFAA, WSU staff had a strong presence in the organization. I credit our Director, Deb Byers, for that 😊 She encouraged involvement and I could see the relationships others had built throughout the state as a result. I just assumed it was part of the job, jumped in and have been reaping the benefits ever since.

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

I started on the Training Committee where I served multiple times; Chaired the Membership & Archives Committees, served on the Welcome Committee & Conference Planning, was elected Treasurer-Elect & am now Treasurer.

I would have to say my favorite was Training. Back then, we traveled throughout selected regions with our team of three to present to High School Counselors, TRIO advisors and anyone else in the communities who needed to be up-to-date on all the new things coming down from DoEd each year. My first year, I had the pleasure of traveling with Brenda Hicks and have been in awe of her ever since.

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 think the most impactful thing about our profession is seeing those students who struggle reach graduation & hearing about the great job they landed as a result. Many of them express that never could have happened without financial aid.

It’s hard to say what has changed to most; changes seem to happen every day. I have seen efforts to remove some of the barriers some students have to break through and efforts to put them back in place. It shouldn’t be this hard to get an education! Especially when decent jobs now days require it.

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’ve been blessed with great mentors throughout my FinAid career: Deb Byers, Sheelu Surender, Donna Carter, Robyn Bongartz & Joe Donlay all at WSU. Brenda Hicks, Myra Pfannenstiel, Lois Madsen, Tony Tanking, Cindy Kleinsorge, Debbie Brewer and SOOOOOO many more.

Most of their advice consists of “Be involved, your connections will be lifelong. Always be open to learn new things & go outside your comfort zone to grow. Lead by example.”

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

  • Personally – my parents & my boys. Their courage & strength continue to amaze me on a daily basis.
    • Professionally – please refer to the previous questions about mentors 😊
    • Globally – all those who are striving to bring people together instead of forcing them apart. Those who have sacrificed, or are currently sacrificing, to improve the world for those who follow. People who put others first; there is too much selfishness in the world today.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Curl up with my fur-babies and binge ID shows on Discover+ in the dark.

Is there anything else you’d like KASFAA members to know about you?

I may seem like an extrovert but I’m really not; I’m shy if I don’t know you but, since I consider everyone in KASFAA a friend, it’s easier for me to open up. Remember the “outside your comfort zone” thing 😉