NASFAA Conference Update – Brenda Hicks, President Elect

The first day of NASFAA was a blast!  I arrived on Thursday to attend the PowerFAIDs conference and GUESS who I ran into!  Our old friend, Brenda Krehbiel.Brenda

Brenda is doing great and loves her new job.  It was fun to see her and catch up.

I started today with a NASFAA 50th Anniversary task force meeting.  I hope that some of you are planning to go to NASFAA in 2016 in Washington DC – it’s going to be very, very fun and I’m helping to plan the party!  We did some initial brainstorming and met each other.  The planning will continue for two more years.  Keep an eye out for further information.

After that I registered and plotted out my afternoon. RegStuff

What I love about NASFAA is that I get to spend my face-to-face time learning ideas and gathering inspiration from my fellow colleagues across the nation. While I was waiting for the general session to start, I also perused the attendee list to see who was here from KASFAA. I noticed our own Ben Kohl on the list who I hear is lighting up the Twittersphere.  I also noticed Scott Franz who happened to be sitting behind me in one of the sessions I attended this afternoon


I think I saw Robert Gamez traveling up an escalator…but I’m not sure.  I also know that Ms. Connie Corcoran is hanging around somewhere, but I haven’t seen her yet.

The opening speaker was Ron Clark.  Ron is an award winning teacher and founder of the Ron Clark Academy.  He is also an author and quite possibly one of the bounciest speakers that I have ever seen.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  Guys, he told a story about how he takes his kids to college campuses all across the nation and during those visits he always talks to the financial aid officers.  He thanked us for what we do and called us angels.  He was a terrific speaker and left the stage to a wild, standing ovation.

I went to two sessions – one on the future of the Perkins program by three presenters who shared their opinions and how they are preparing for the September 2015 expiration date.  I also attended the Federal Town Hall meeting – otherwise dubbed the “Jeff Baker Show.”  I picked up some valuable information there on Perkins, the FAFSA and SULA.  Jeff asked for feedback on what was good and bad about the way they are asking the parent questions on the FAFSA.  Jeff is always fun to listen to.

All in all – it was a great start to the conference.  I went to the Welcome reception where I had some of the best grits I’ve had in a long time and spent the evening bumping into friends like Myra, Mindy and Julie, looking at all the vender swag, getting a NASFAA tattoo and chatting up the NASFAA team and people from the RMAFSAA region.

-Brenda Hicks, President Elect


Keith Fitzsimmons Shows Show-Me State Fiscal Officers

Fitzsimmons Shows Show-Me State Fiscal Officers

Keith Fitzsimmons, KASFAA Treasurer and Fiscal Officer & Conference Planning Committees, presented the first Business Officer Training and Roundtable for our colleagues across the state line in Missouri on May 8th. The MASFAP training was at the new MOHELA – Columbia MO Servicing Center and was designed to encourage the fiscal officers to gather, meet, and network on a regular basis. What better resource to model than our KASFAA Fiscal Officers? Thirty plus from around the state participated as Keith gave a nuts and bolts overview of fiscal officer duties, resources, and the importance of a solid support group of peers. The Missouri folks were also treated with KASFAA’s video, “A Day in the life of the Bursar”. The session was a success as MASFAP has now committed to have a Fiscal Officer Track at their annual conferences.

Keith told the group that, “Any time we can support each other, it just makes us all stronger.”

“I am thrilled with the results of the business officer training.  It was a great feeling to experience the enthusiasm in the room and everyone’s interest in becoming a part of MASFAP.”  Laura L. Steinbeck, Director, Business Development, Sallie Mae.

“Keith!!!!!!!!!!! You are so AWESOME!  Thank you so much for your willingness to help out!” Crystal Bruntz, Director of Financial Aid, Avila University, Kansas City, MO.

KASFAA Spring 2014 Conference

Did you miss the KASFAA Spring 2014 Conference in Topeka, Kansas?  Click the links below to see videos of the event!

Tony Lubbers Award

Tony Tanking Award

Danielle Sullivan Award

Installation of KASFAA Officers

KASFAA 2014 Service Awards

KASFAA 2014 Pie Eating Contest

2014 Retirement Recognitions

Profiles in Delinquency

Profiles in Delinquency

In the quest to achieve the American Dream, an education is one of the most important tools a person can acquire. Ironically, the cost of getting that education can create as many obstacles as it does opportunities.

Student debt in this country has reached an all-time high. Growing steadily over the past decade, the nation’s $1-Trillion student debt burden has financial implications that extend far beyond student borrowers. As an entire generation’s discretionary spending virtually disappears, it causes an economic ripple effect impacting families, government and municipalities, and businesses alike.

The reality of student debt is that not all delinquent borrowers are the same. The work of American Student Assistance® (ASA), with over a million student borrowers, has revealed that people who are behind on their loan repayments often fall into one of six different categories. Each type of student borrower comes with a unique set of circumstances and challenges—as well as unique opportunities to steer them back onto a path to successful repayment.

Who are the Hand Raisers?

This is the type of borrower who would be mentioned in sentences that begin, “In a perfect world…” Hand Raisers are aware of their debt situation, but they are not entirely sure of their repayment details and obligations. Upon completion of their degree, Hand Raisers are ready and willing to begin all the necessary preparations to ensure their future success.

Who are the Blindsided?

The Blindsided don’t lack motivation. They lack awareness. Like all graduates, they’re thrust into a world of job hunting, moving, adjusting to the “real world” beyond college, and of course, debt repayment. They may not know or fully understand the repercussions that delinquency or default can have on their long-term goals—and often they do not know where to begin, or how to manage their loan repayment.

Who are the Overwhelmed?

Student debt is a perpetual game of catch-up then fall-behind for the Overwhelmed. They will slip from 30 to 60 to 90 days delinquent, then catch up, only to slip behind once again. Due to a variety of factors—including unemployment and underemployment—their student loan repayment has not been a priority.

Who are the Small Debtors?
As a whole, the Small Debtors make up one of the larger groups of student borrowers. Their loans may represent only one or two semesters at college, with student loan balances totaling as little as $1,000. Small Debtors determined early on that they were not academically or socially prepared for college, and withdrew. But experience has shown that the earlier a student withdraws, the higher their risk of delinquency.

Who are the Running Scared?

Hopeless. That’s the overwhelming emotion felt by many of the Running Scared. They consider their debt as an insurmountable obstacle. They don’t believe that there is a solution to their problem, so they are unwilling to even broach the subject at all. Consequently, they’re ignoring the warning signs of credit damage, collections or even potential default.

Who are the Cliff Dwellers?

The Cliff Dwellers are, quite literally, a group of borrowers living on the edge of default. They’ve gone beyond 30, 60, and 90-days delinquent and are rapidly approaching 270 days past due. They are on the brink of disaster. Cliff Dwellers may or may not know how close they are to default; most certainly they do not know how quickly their options vanish once they go over the default cliff.

 For more information about each of these borrower categories as well as tips on how to help each one, visit


Submitted by Darcy Esau, Manager of Community and Corporate Engagement, SALT


Using Credit Smartly Can Mean Good Credit…And More

Using Credit Smartly Can Mean Good Credit…And More

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

Credit is financial trustworthiness. It’s an opportunity to build relationships with lenders that allows you to get the things you need, like loans for a car or a home, based on your promise to pay later. Therefore, establishing good credit ensures you’re able to retain those important relationships, and can even offer additional perks, like lower interest rates, for future purchases.

What is Good Credit vs. Bad Credit?

Each line of credit (e.g., a car loan, a house loan, student loans, a credit card) is factored into an individual’s overall credit rating. The life of each line of credit is recorded over the amount of time it takes to pay off, and then rated to get an overall credit report.

Having a good credit report means that an individual is making the agreed-upon amount of payments on the agreed-upon date as necessary until the line of credit is paid-in-full. Alternately, bad credit means an individual has issues keeping up their end of the bargain; they may not pay the full minimum payments or not make required payments on time.

Credit reports are also used to generate a credit score; the number averaged from the three major credit bureaus that track an individual’s credit rating. General credit score averages are:

  • 350 (very bad)
  • 650 (fair)
  • 850 (good)

How Does Credit Affect Me?

Credit ratings affect many aspects of life, not just whether an individual can obtain future loans. Credit ratings:

  • May determine whether employers extend job offers. Some employers use credit to assess a person’s character.
  • Determine whether approval will be obtained on consumer loans (e.g., car loans), and influences the interest rates and fees that are assessed. Good credit can mean lower interest rates on future lines of credit.
  • May determine whether an individual can rent an apartment. Many landlords use credit to decide if an applicant is a good risk and may even reduce the security deposit if the applicant has good credit.
  • May determine whether an individual is eligible for financial aid for student loans.
  • Helps an individual receive lower insurance rates, since some insurance companies set premiums based on credit history.

Credit Card Tips

Credit cards can be a great way to build and maintain good credit. However, they can also be one of the fastest ways to damage credit if not used properly. Here are some basic dos and don’ts for credit cards.

  • Do use for extraordinary purchases (e.g., purchasing new furniture) like a temporary loan, but only if you can pay the amount of the purchase off within the billing cycle (usually 30 days).

Why? Credit cards include interest that builds on each purchase. If you charge large amounts to credit cards and can’t pay it off right away, the amount of the purchase acquires interest that adds to the overall amount you have to pay back.

  • Do keep balances at, or under 25 – 30% of your total limit, and never max out cards.

Why? Keeping a low, or no, balance on a credit card shows lenders that an individual is more capable of paying back the overall amount. Even if the balance is paid off after maxing a card, reaching the maximum amount allowed is bad for credit. It’s a better idea to use two cards on which a lower, or no, balance can be maintained. That way, the risk of not being able to pay the full amount is decreased, and there’s also the added benefit of keeping good standing on an additional card.

  • Do keep a low balance, if any, but don’t necessarily cancel credit cards that are paid-in-full.

Why? If an individual has available credit in good standing, it can actually damage their credit score to remove that card, since it’s basically removing credit options. It’s a better idea to keep the card open and only use it when/if necessary.

Why Maintaining Good Credit Matters

The good news is that bad credit can always be fixed, and maintained. Here are some of the best ways to achieve good credit.

  • Always pay bills on time. Payment history is the most important factor in credit ratings.
  • Keep low balances on credit cards.
  • Know your credit rating; companies that record credit submit individuals’ credit history to the three main bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), but they can make mistakes. Individuals can pay to obtain reports through these bureaus or visit for a free report once every 12 months; additional inquiries require payment.
  • Avoid too many credit inquiries in a short period (e.g., inquiries of credit report for taking out loans for cars, homes, personal reasons, credit cards, etc.). Too many inquiries can indicate an individual is looking for multiple lines of credit, and may be too much of a risk for a lender.
  • Protect finances! Keep financial records in order and always watch for fraud and scams.


Diane Borchardt is a Senior Marketing Associate with Great Lakes. You can reach Diane at (888) 502-5905, or by email at Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at

MidAmerica Nazarene Update

MidAmerica Nazarene has a new Director of Student Financial Aid Services, Paul Gordon.  He comes from Stephens College in Columbia, MO.  He has worked at Donnelly College in KC, KS; and Avila and Rockhurst in KC, MO.  He is fitting in very well with the office.  He lives in Lee’s Summit, MO.  He is married and has one son on college at Truman State and one in High School.

Perry Diehm has moved to a financial aid compliance role and is still very active in the administration of MNU’s Student Financial Aid Services office.