Where will KASFAA Professional Development Training make an appearance this fall?

From: Darcy Johnson

Hope you all have been keeping an eye on your emails!

Add another acronym to your list because KASFAA PDT (Professional Development Training) will be coming to a town near you this fall!

Professional Development Training will be offered on two topics. Can you guess what they are?

analysis blackboard board bubble

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Summer Institute pt. 6

By: Kristen Martin

Until recently, one of the only things I knew about Summer Institute was that it was held annually in Colorado. Having grown up in Colorado, I had wanted to go, if only as a work-sponsored trip to see my family and friends. However, the more I learned about it, from peers at KASFAA and from my supervisor, the more it sounded like a great opportunity to learn and grow in my career.

After a convenient brunch with my parents, arriving at the Colorado College campus felt a little like I was back in middle school, heading to camp for a week. I was glad to see I’d have my own bedroom, and that the dorms were substantially nicer than those I lived in during college!

I was in the Decathlon class, and though I felt like it took a little time for the group to open up, we eventually fell into a rhythm that felt easy and comfortable, like we’d all been friends or colleagues for a long time. Our group was diverse in the length and type of experience we brought to the table, and I know the class helped open my eyes to the landscape of higher education. Our instructors were knowledgeable and easygoing – a necessity in a class who isn’t afraid to point out mistakes! I am so happy to have had a week of meme-making and laughter – I know that many in my class will be lifelong contacts and I would recommend Summer Institute to financial aid administrators of all levels.

Keep Austin Weird: NASFAA National Conference Report

By: Sara Vancil

SVancil 1

I headed to Austin on Saturday, bringing my mom along for the trip so we could experience some highlights of Austin!  Saturday afternoon we headed to Barton Springs Pool, which is a huge natural limestone pool fed by underground springs.  The brisk 68 degree water felt good against the 100 degree heat!

SVancil 2Sunday was a day for exploring so after brunch at Arturo’s Underground Cafe, we headed out to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  If you know me at all, you know I seek out any botanical garden I can when visiting a new place!  So despite the blazing sun, we walked the gardens, viewing native Texas plants and trying to catch sight of scurrying salamanders and snakes.  We followed this up with a trip to Uncommon Objects, described as a one-of-a-kind emporium of transcendent junk. Judging by all the pictures I took of the weirdness, the description is on target.  This fun specimen helped me feel right at home, however, with her ruby slippers!


Finally, no trip to Austin is complete without seeing some graffiti art so we stopped by Graffiti Park at Castle Hills.  Word has it that it’s scheduled to be demolished soon (ah progress!) so if that’s the case, it was good to experience before it’s gone!  There were many visitors including those with spray cans continuing to build on the graffiti.

SVancil 3

Sunday evening was the opening session of the conference and wow, was it amazing!  The keynote speaker was Wes Moore, the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation and former CEO of BridgeEdU.  He shared his own story of overcoming adversity through education and embracing personal responsibility.  He inspired attendees to remember that our students are a product of our expectations of them and we should expect greatness.  Take a listen to get to know more of his message. Continue reading

Summer Institute pt. 5

By: Charis Stanley

Six Days in the Mountains

It started at the local conference, KASFAA Spring Conference, months ago I had applied for the RMASFAA scholarship and this night was the one where I got to know if I received it. Anxiously waiting until scholarship recipients were announced…my name was called? My name was called! I got the scholarship, I was incredibly excited to get to attend this fantastic training opportunity.

Flash forward two months later, I arrived at Loomis hall shortly after dark on Saturday, checked in, found my room, and dropped off my luggage. I wandered the campus and area until I found a place that looked like somewhere good to eat, I got tacos at La’au’s Taco Shop which were quite tasty and gave me a discount for walking. The night was pretty uneventful, I had not yet met anyone else attending Summer Institute, and so I opted to walk around the campus.

The next morning I woke up to a slightly chilly room, the best view of Pike’s Peak, and joints that hurt so bad I couldn’t get down the stairs at first. I was lucky enough to have a window that looked up to Pike’s Peak unobstructed! I also brought BioFreeze with me for my joints. This day I met one of my roommates as I walked out of our house’s shared restroom. We introduced each other and talked a little about our experience of working in Financial Aid. She was my senior but we instantly hit it off. One of her colleagues and her were driving further into town to get coffee and breakfast. I told them about a crepe place I saw on Google; Paris Crepes so we decided to walk for crepes after coffee. Like many people, we later went on a shopping trip to pick up snacks, a coffee maker, coffee, extra blankets, and pillows. Coming back we rushed to our classroom to have our first session. While neither of us had met our other two roommates we did at our class! Funny enough all four of us inadvertently sat in a line in class. The first session was more of a meet and greet and ice breaker session than anything but the class became acquainted and more comfortable with each other quickly. Class was adjourned and we went off for dinner and the evening game that night.

It took no time for the word to spread that we had a coffee maker, with coffee, and creamer. That morning we had a full house before heading off to breakfast. Not really sure what I was getting into, I felt apprehensive but still excited about the experience. Some of the sessions were better than others as far as knowledge gained form the slideshows and instruction alone. However, the best benefit was getting to talk with my classmates about the subjects. Our instructors facilitated classroom discussion. This discussion was immensely helpful in learning how other schools handle different situations. As each day went by I felt more comfortable in the setting and started reaching out to others. I sat with people I didn’t know and talked with classmates that had a more well-rounded knowledge over certain subjects than I did. I found myself approaching my instructors with some questions or looking for more information than what was covered. I was part of a class that had quite the spread of experience in the financial aid world. I felt like I was one of the less experienced in the class on some subjects but feel I came away with a better understanding of many of the subjects I do not necessarily do as part of my daily duties. I found I especially enjoy Professional Judgments when that session was over with. I hope this is something I can start learning more about and possibly add to my duties back at my institution. I learned ways that different individuals handle some tough situations.

By the closing ceremony night I felt as if I’d been there for an entire semester. I had soaked up knowledge, talked with my peers, and made connections that will continue to be one of my greatest resources. It was a bittersweet night, I missed my home, my dog, and my husband…well, kind of. But I also would miss the people I met, the beautiful views, and the delicious food that I had. I spent late nights up talking with my roommates and feel I made lifelong friends as well as professional connections. For anyone struggling with whether Summer Institute is worth it, it is. Get off the fence and come, or send someone to go. You will walk away with a vast array of knowledge as well as more connections within the industry than you would think.

P.S. Please bring business cards with you.

Summer Institute pt. 4

By: Cyril Scruggs

Summer Institute was an “alien concept to me” until I joined the RMASFAA 2017 conference. Most of the participants are saying how it helped them to become efficient Financial Aid Administrators especially those who are newbies. I have a very supportive supervisor (a former Summer Institute student) and after talking to her, she said we could apply for a scholarship. Long story short, I got the scholarship, thanks to KASFAA!!!

I am not from the United States and the conference is in Colorado Springs. I’ve heard it is a beautiful place but also heard that it is bigger than where I live, the biggest city in the USA, Liberal, KS. Just kidding!

So, Colorado Springs, I will be on my own going there, live there for 5 days and learn what I can. A home away from home. I accepted the challenge despite the “what if’s” and I am glad I did.

After 13 years, I am back in the classroom with 2 teachers, Mitzi and Ryan, as well as classmates from different states. On the first session, we were asked to introduce ourselves, which I really like, while the succeeding days are all “serious discussions”. It is very interactive, everyone has a chance to share how their school would deal such a situation. After each session, we were given exercises to test our understanding. Our class was divided into teams and every time we got the correct answer, the team scored! The competition was tight though, our team just stayed on the safe side – the middle. LOL

At the end of the day, our teachers set our expectation on what are we going to do the following day. We have a set schedule for class discussion, breaks and meals, and even morning and evening walks. There is this 1 day where we have an early out to do some activities on our own. Our teachers even asked us what we want to do to make sure that nobody is staying in his/her room alone because he/she has no one to go with. Aside from the learnings, the highlights are knowing that I am NOT alone in my struggles and I have Fin Aid friends who are willing to me help me; making connections, gaining new friends, Minute to Win It game, and the awards night. Oh boy! The head shaking and tissue pulling are hilarious! This reminds me the concept of “work and life balance”.

The place is beautiful! My room view is the mountain, very refreshing! It felt like I was on vacation every time I opened my window.

CScruggs SI Pic

Looking back, I only have happy memories of the conference even if my brain is swelling with all the information. I am still adjusting to my “old country life” and honestly, I am sad leaving that beautiful place with amazing people. It is all in one – city life and nature, everything is within reach. However, I have a beautiful family waiting for me to come home and a job to do, at my school; I have students to take care of; it is time to apply that knowledge and share it with my colleagues.

I am forever thankful to the Summer Institute for making this available to all the Financial Aid Administrators. To my teachers, Mitzi and Ryan, you have no idea how grateful I am for the knowledge and best practices you have shared and for your effort in making sure that we understood it.

Given a chance, I will come back again and will definitely recommend this to all people in the Financial Aid world or those who are wanting to explore the Financial Aid world. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Summer Institute rocks!!!

Summer Institute pt. 3

By: Laura Allison

RMASFAA’s Summer Institute was a crowd-pleasing experience that I won’t soon forget! I had the privilege of joining the Baseball Team in our sports themed group full of directors, associate directors and financial aid specialists with years of experience. We covered a slew of topics and received a NASFAA credentialing session as well.

By far the most rewarding part of the SI experience was the opportunity to listen to other financial aid officers’ tips, tricks and methods. Not only did I get to spend time in the classroom sharing ideas and strategies with others from across the midwest, but I also had the opportunity to get insight from a panel of directors from small to large institutions. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting insight on the role NASFAA plays in financial aid policy, research and implementation.

The RMASFAA Summer Institute has inspired me to try out new methods and to engage other financial aid officers at our state, regional and national level. I have a renewed appreciation for all those financial aid officers who not only fulfill their work duties, but also volunteer their time to make KASFAA and RMASFAA organizations I am proud to be a member of. Thank you for the scholarship that afforded me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

Summer Institute pt. 2

By: Jessica Casper

Summer Institute exceeded my expectations! I was unsure of what to expect, but I completely enjoyed my experience. I have found that even in the weeks following summer institute, I have picked up a lot more in my position as a financial aid advisor. I believe summer institute is one of those points in your career that will help you decide if you really enjoy financial aid as a profession. I feel it can also determine if you are meant to stay in your current role. I now know that I belong in my current role, helping students meet their ultimate goal of graduating college. Everyone should go to Summer Institute at least once!