TASFAA President’s Farewell remarks!

TASFAA is sometimes considered unique because of the large size our state, the many leaders who go on to serve as  NASFAA Chairs and how well we do things, including our state conference. I would argue that what makes TASFAA unique is each one of YOU, the members. Each member brings  their unique talents and passion to our industry.

You take a group of talented people, thousands of miles apart from each other in some cases, from different school sectors, school sizes and different school missions; and they do amazing things that benefit TASFAA members, institutions, the state and nation, and most importantly, students in this great state of Texas. TASFAA members, I am referencing your board, your committee chairs/co-chairs and your committee members who have served TASFAA not only this year, but every year.

Last year at the annual fall conference, I stated that I looked forward to working with the TASFAA board, committee chairs/co-chairs and committee members to continue working toward the goals of TASFAA’s three-year strategic plan.

As part of the strategic plan, an established goal was to develop the professional skills and expertise of student financial aid administrators in the State of Texas.

To that end, a task force was formed to address this goal, the task force led by Carolyn Jones, along with Zelma DeLeon, Lyn Kinyon and Christina Pickla, developed the inaugural Aspiring Directors track for this year’s annual conference to support the development of our future leaders. Thank you for those who stopped me during the conference and told me how much they learned from the Aspiring Directors track. I also look forward to hearing from other attendees who participated, as to how they benefited from the track, and suggestions for the future.

Another key TASFAA objective of the previous mentioned goal was to increase offerings of NASFAA Credentialing. I am pleased to report that this year at the Regional training sites; the NASFAA Credentialing module for Satisfactory Academic Progress was provided. NASFAA credentialing was well received at all training sites. Thank you to our two Regional training co-chairs, Christy Miller and Heather Fountain.

For the second year in a row, TASFAA continued to provide additional opportunities for NASFAA Credentialing during our pre-conference. I would like to thank Christy Miller who has led this charge in the initial stages of researching the possibility of providing NASFAA credentialing to TASFAA members, as well as being a trainer on various NASFAA Credentialing topics.

A second goal of TASFAA’s strategic plan was to lead and facilitate the development of informed policies related to effective student financial aid programs and improvement of student access and success at institutions of higher education.

This past year we were able was to provide Financial Aid 101 presentations to approximately 40 staffers at the State Capital.

The Legislative Issues committee led by Alan Pixley and Zelma DeLeon worked on position papers and dissemination of information related to the legislative session updates. Input from TASFAA members was obtained during this past legislative session for development of these position’s papers. We thank you for your valuable input. In addition, I provided letters of introduction of TASFAA as a resource on financial aid programs to a number of state legislators.

Dr. Christopher Murr, Mr. Jimmy Parker and I provided a letter for support for SB 499 and were present at the state capital in support of this bill. We were also able to thank Senator Seliger for this bill, which clarified for schools that alternative loans were not intended to be included in the annual debt letters provided to students as required by SB 887.

The third strategic goal of TASFAA was to ensure finances are managed for the long-term fiscal health of the Association while also using funds to develop initiatives that will better meet the needs of the association members.

I asked Dr. Christopher Murr to lead the Operating Reserves Task Force and provide recommendations to the board regarding the appropriate balance of funds to maintain in TASFAA’s checking account. After research and working with Tia Clary, TASFAA’s accountant, Dr. Murr provided recommendations to the board of the target minimum of operating reserves to equal at least six months of average recurring operating cost. This recommendation was approved by the board and placed in the Policies and Procedures manual.

In addition to these accomplishments this past year, TASFAA committees continued their work on annual events, such as New Aid Officers Workshop, TASFAA ABC’s, and Regional Training, as well as working to educate high school counselors through Early Awareness, selecting sites for the next year’s fall conference and New Aid Officers Workshop. The Membership committee worked on soliciting new members to TASFAA and renewals of current members. The Nominations & Elections committee sought nominations for future TASFAA leaders; and the Awards and Scholarships committee solicited nominations to recognize those who have been leaders in this industry, excelling in various areas; as well as ensuring we recognize our members through years of service pins.  Communicating and Social Media continued to inform members via the list serve along with some Blog posting. The Mentor/Protégé committee fostered mentoring for those who are new to the industry. Treasury reports were provided at all TASFAA Board meetings as well as financial reports provided by TASFAA’s investment firm. All minutes from board meetings were posted in a timely manner on the TASFAA website.

Lastly, shortly after last year’s fall conference, ATAC, our long-standing web provider, announced they will be closing their operations after 25 years in November 2019. ATAC has been a wonderful partner with TASFAA for many years and we appreciate all they have done to support us. The board reviewed demonstrations and bids from several providers and selected MemberClicks as our new web service platform. This web platform is much more robust, and I believe you as members will be very happy with our new web platform. I want to express my sincere appreciation to Kevin Armalay, our
Web Services chair, who has led this effort from the start. He has done an amazing job!

A year goes by very fast – there is much to do and time is not on your side most days. It has been an honor and privilege to have led and served TASFAA as President. The board, committee chairs/co-chairs, and committee members worked hard for TASFAA all year. I am amazed at all of these individuals. TASFAA needs more volunteers, more folks ready to step up and run for the board, president elect, and president.

TASFAA members, you continue to do amazing work at your institutions to help educate Texas, providing the financial resources that so many Texas students need, and assisting them with obtaining their educational goals.

I leave you with this quote by Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the Higher Education Act of 1965 on the campus of Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas.

Poverty must not be a bar to learning and learning must offer an escape from poverty.

Best regards to all of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 TASFAA FALL CONFERENCE COUNTDOWN

2019 TASFAA FALL CONFERENCE COUNTDOWN

The conference is 1 week away!

 

October 9-11
Historic Hilton Fort Worth
815 Main St.
Fort Worth, TX

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

We will welcome Robin Roberts as our opening keynote speaker on Wednesday afternoon (10/9).

Robin is an award-winning speaker, author, entertainer, and Certified Consulting Hypnotist from the Houston area.

Robin will kick-off our conference with an inspiring and thought-provoking demonstration of how we are all connected – to each other, to our clients, and to our own amazing minds! Your understanding of the influence of connection will be expanded as you witness, right before your eyes, the power of the subconscious mind. Once you witness these connections in action, your experience of the conference will be enhanced.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Each year the TASFAA Fall Conference Committee selects a charity in our host city to benefit from the generosity of conference attendees. We are pleased to have selected Read Fort Worth (readfortworth.org) as this year’s community organization. Read Fort Worth seeks to ensure that 100% of Fort Worth third-graders are reading to learn – not learning to read – by 2025.

In addition to contributing an item and purchasing tickets for the Raffle, you can contribute to this worthy organization by participating in DENIM DAYS and wearing jeans!

For a cash (or credit card) donation you can purchase a sticker indicating that you are wearing denim in support of Read Fort Worth. Stickers will be available at the conference for $2 a day (one sticker) or $5 for all three days of the conference (three stickers). Additionally, attendees who bring a raffle item will receive one Denim Days sticker. And, each attendee who donates a book(s) to Read Fort Worth will also receive one Denim Days sticker.

A check and all books collected will be presented to a representative of Read Fort Worth on Friday morning.

Just think- if each attendee were to contribute $5, we would donate at least $1,500 to Read Fort Worth!

To learn more, see the Community Service page of the conference website.

WELLNESS EVENT

TASFAA Mack Adams Scholarship Fund Fit-Dice Event

Join us on Thursday, October 10 from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

$25 entry fee (event t-shirt included)

How will this work?

  • Two dice will be rolled.
  • One determines the activity and one determines the duration.
  • For instance: squats for 30 seconds.
  • All activities will be presented with beginner, intermediate, and advanced variations.

Trophies will be awarded to Outstanding Male and Outstanding Female. And, the first 15 members who register will receive participation medals.

All funds raised through this event benefit the TASFAA Mack C. Adams scholarship fund. This fund helps defray professional development expenses for members who may not otherwise be able to attend TAFSAA conferences and training due to institutional budgetary constraints.

Mack C. Adams was instrumental in creating the Texas Association of Student Financial Administrators (TASFAA) and served as its first president (1968-1969). He continued to serve the Association as a member until his retirement in 1995.

SPONSORS AND EXHIBITORS

As you participate in the conference, please be sure to thank our sponsors and to visit our Exhibitors during breaks.

Visit TASFAA’s Website and click on the conference logo for more information.

 

 

 

This post is sponsored by Earnest.

2019-2020 TASFAA Board Election Results

Dear TASFAA Members,

The 2019-2020 balloting for the TASFAA Board of Directors has closed. The votes have been tabulated, and the below individuals have been elected to serve as the president-elect and new board members of TASFAA. I want to thank, on behalf of the board, every TASFAA member who took the time to submit a nomination and especially those individuals who agreed to stand for election and represent our members on the TASFAA Board of Directors. Thank you all very much.

President Elect

  • Taryn Anderson – University of Dallas

Board Members (At-Large)

  • Cynthia Butler – Dallas County Community College District
  • Dede Gonzales – Texas State University
  • Jael Perez – University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley
  • Christina Pikla – Trinity University

 

New Aid Officers Workshop Testimonials

Hello TASFAA members,

I hope all of you are off to a great summer start! Seems like we just keep going in financial aid these days, one semester to the next. It is my pleasure to share with you some brief testimonials from recent attendees to TASFAA’s New Aid Officer Workshop held in Grapevine, Texas at The Great Wolfe Lodge.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Director’s around the state who have invested in this year’s participants and past year’s participants by allocating budget dollars to send their team members to New Aid Officers!

It seems like just a few years ago I attended New Aid Officer Workshop (NAOW). When I attended, it was “Camp We be New”. We were new and had a lot to learn. I did indeed learn a great deal and I met people who I am still in contact with today. The training I received during NAOW, was very beneficial to me as I was beginning my career in student aid.

As financial aid directors, we must invest in our team members and foster an environment where our team members will embrace this rewarding career. Financial Aid is a career where you commit to serving students and families as they seek educational goals in order to improve their overall well-being.

Thank you again financial aid directors for investing in your team members and to the participants who shared their experience as an attendee at the 2019 New Aid Officers Workshop for this blog post.

Sincerely,
Delisa Falks
TASFAA President
2018-2019

 

Jared Williams

This May I attended the TASFAA New Aid Officer Workshop. The two and a half day conference was packed with information and resources. The presenters were enthusiastic and entertaining. I found it interesting to learn of similarities and differences between the various institutions represented. Coming from our team based organizational structure, there were things with which I was well acquainted and things I had only encountered in passing. The presentations made no assumption of prior experience and therefore filled in gaps in knowledge and answered questions I had never had reason to ask. I appreciate the opportunity to attend and only wish that I could have had the experience earlier.

You guys did a great job. I really appreciated the lighthearted way you and your team presented some otherwise fairly dry information.

 

Stephen Lewis

Attending the TAASFA New Aid Officer Workshop was a very helpful conference that allows new financial aid officers to connect all the pieces of the FA process. Attending this conference we were able to learn about specialty fields such as Return to Title IV, Satisfactory Academic Progress, and Verification. More importantly, I gained a clear understanding of how I, a Financial Aid Administrator of the Processing team, benefit the overall success of our students and office.

I look forward to signing up to volunteer with TASSFA and the training committee in the future!

 

Laurel Butts

NAVIGATING THE LABYRINTH OF FINANCIAL AID AS A NEW AID OFFICER

In my first few weeks as a financial aid advisor, my colleague asked me if I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose. His question accurately indicated the extent of information and detail that a new aid officer must learn in order to properly advise on federal, state, and institutional aid. TASFAA’s New Aid Officer’s Workshop (NAOW) provides those who are new to the field of financial aid with an opportunity to understand the legal and conceptual framework of this specialty within higher education. It also presents a venue that allows one the occasion to meet new officers from other Texas institutions.

The workshop consists of a series of presentations that cover the many aspects of financial aid such as verification, satisfactory academic progress, and assessing financial need. The coordinators invite those present to participate in exercises that build social perceptiveness. Attendees are also able to interact with other TASFAA members at meals and breaks. Further, the workshop encourages the free exchange of ideas and procedures among the participants. This atmosphere exemplifies that new officers engage with a community that prioritizes compliance and customer service while at the workshop.

NAOW hosts presenters from various higher education institutions in Texas. The presenters provide those who attend with the historical, legislative, and conceptual background when explaining their particular category. For example, Kevin Campbell, Training Officer with the U.S. Department of Education, shared the Pell Grant’s namesake and legislative journey before explaining the essential intricacies of year-round Pell. Such context may seem dispensable; however, the provided history allows for an understanding of the gravity and import of this federal program.

When new aid officers have the opportunity to engage with the rationales and details of the many forms and processes of financial aid, they are better equipped to advise on such programs and rules. During the workshop, Lindsay Partridge, Financial Aid Officer at UT Southwestern Medical Center, spoke on federal direct loans. She provided strategies for discussing unsubsidized loans with students, which included encouraging students to pay the loan’s interest while the student is still pursuing his or her degree. By gleaning these strategies from financial aid professionals throughout Texas, the new aid officer is better equipped as a colleague and advisor.

Another benefit of attending the workshop is that the presenters provide and cite the many resources available to an aid officer, such as NASFAA and FSA published guidance. This information communicates to the new officer that he or she is connected to and supported by the available resources. As an added benefit, the presenters often share their contact information if one is in need of further clarification. Most memorably, James Hubener, District Director at Dallas County Community College, offered his email address following his presentation on satisfactory academic progress. Such professional generosity demonstrates the networking opportunities available within the TASFAA community.

Those who attend NAOW not only have the ability to interact with other aid officers from other institutions, but they are also able to engage with TASFAA’s board members. In sum, the workshop offers a space where those new to financial aid may grow their current understanding of the subject while also networking in a professional setting.

 

Robert Holt

As many of you know (or are finding out like myself), the world of financial aid is abundant in its set of rules and seems to almost have its own language. There are so moving parts to learn that everyone I’ve spoken with has told me it’s virtually impossible to learn it all. Every situation can be a little different not only for each student, but for each school as well. For this reason (amongst many others), I feel like a savvy suggestion would be to muster up a few training representatives from the surrounding schools to allow them the opportunity to educate the newer members of the financial aid scene. However, I must confess that the plan I speak of is not one of my own (I’m guessing you already knew that, right). Regardless of who came up with this bright idea, it exists because the selfless contributions made allow for a New Aid Officer workshop directed by the Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (TASFAA).

          This professional association for the state of Texas assembles numerous top-notch training instructors that share their experiences with new officers like myself. Most ranging from one week of experience to a year or so (with a few veteran officers attending for a refresher), the group of about 80 attendees had several different perspectives on how to handle the situations their schools commonly face. The environment that was created allowed for much discussion and involvement between the instructors and us new officers. With only 3 months of financial aid knowledge under my belt, this kind of training was crucial for my growth in order to help our students the best I possibly can. Not only was I able to further build on my foundation with a variety of topics (and I haveve a ton of notes in case I forget), but I was able to build my confidence amongst peers as we learned from each other together.

Over the course of the workshop, we also participated in a few group exercises as well. These not only broadened my horizon from a financial aid standpoint, but from a personal development point of view as well. Many of us enjoyed the activities and were truly able to learn from other’s points of view. Us new aid officers not only had the opportunity to learn and network with other, but we were also able to be lucky enough to do the same with the training officers and the Board of Directors. We even did a team building exercise after dinner (it was awesome)! Like I previously mentioned, the environment for learning was perfect and encouragement was plentiful because of the wonderful representatives of TASFAA and the bright new aid officers who participated. Thank you all so much for the opportunity to learn and serve our students with you!

For anyone who will be attending this workshop in the future, here’s a few things I tried to focus on for the bigger picture. Take plenty of notes, as they may help your students in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as the answer may help your students in the future. Be respectful and network with your peers, as you may help each other in the future. But most of all, show up and have fun. I promise you will learn something valuable, for everyone in the present.