TASFAA Community Blog

  • 11 Jul 2014 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    TASFAA Summer Update!!
    Not only has the weather been heating up, but our members have been burning up the regional and national financial aid scene!


    First, several of TASFAA’s own attended the SASFAA transition meeting in St. Pete Beach, Fl. Tennessee will have several members on our southern regional association board this year. TSAC’s Terri Parchment will be serving as SASFAA Budget and Finance Chair, Marian Dill from Lee University is the new SASFAA Vice President and I will be taking over for Jeff Gerkin as the state president representative from Tennessee.


    Next, TASFAA was proud to send our FIRST Clyde Walker Professional Development Scholarship recipient to the SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshop, Destini Burns from Tennessee State University. Destini reported that it was a great experience and “a blast”! David Haggard from Bryan College also represented Tennessee as one of the NAOW presenters.

    Most recently, Tennessee played host to our national conference. Brent Tener from Vanderbilt served as the conference chair for NASFAA and helped provide a wonderful training opportunity for approximately 2500 financial aid officers from across the United States. Vandy’s Karen Hauser served as local arrangements chair, with TASFAA members Charles Harper (Belmont), Melissa Smith (Vanderbilt), Tanaka Vercher (TSU), Cara Suhr (TCAT Nashville) and me (UT Knoxville) serving on the committee. Many, many, more TASFAA members stepped up as volunteers at registration, the information booth, packet stuffing and the hospitality suite. Thank you to everyone who helped to show the NASFAA folks why we are known as the volunteer state!!

     

    Last but not least, we would like to congratulate Deidra Cummings from Lipscomb University for serving on the NASFAA Graduate & Professional Issues Caucus.

    We will soon have our first official 2014-2015 TASFAA Executive Board Meeting. I look forward to a great year as President and I welcome your comments and suggestions. Many of you have completed the volunteer form online and have been contacted by one of our committees. If you are interested in serving, it’s not too late! Volunteer online or contact any member of the TASFAA board. As you will hear me say many times throughout this year:
    TASFAA, We Are Family!!


    Respectfully Yours,
    Celena Tulloss
    TASFAA President 2014-2015

    Members of the 2014-15 TASFAA Board:

    Elected Officers/Executive Board
    President Celena Tulloss, University of Tennessee
    President Elect Dick Smelser, Pellissippi State Community College
    Past President Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee
    Treasurer Lester McKenzie, Tennessee Tech University
    Secretary Melissa Smith, Vanderbilt University
    4 Yr Public Tanaka Vercher, Tennessee State University
    4 Yr Private Tiffany Summers, Lipscomb University
    2 Yr Public Joe Myers, Motlow State Community College
    Proprietary Debra Stratman, Miller Motte Technical College
    TCAT Kara Vanhoy, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Crossville
    At Large Karen Hauser, Vanderbilt University

    Committee Chairs
    Association Governance Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee
    Awards Cherry Johnson, Columbia State Community College
    Budget/Finance Cara Suhr, Tennessee Technology Center – Nashville
    Conference/Fin Aid Awareness Leah Louallen, TSAC
    Diversity Willie Thomas, Chattanooga State Community College
    Electronic Services Wes Armstrong, Northeast State Community College
    Mentorship Charles Harper, Belmont University
    Governmental Relations Ron Gambill, Edsouth
    Historical Jan Lassiter, Edsouth
    Long Range Strategic Plan Brent Tener, Vanderbilt University
    Membership Terri Parchment, TSAC
    Newsletter/Public Relations Bryan Erslan, Lincoln Memorial University
    Nominations Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee (as Past President)
    Site Selection Sonja McMullen, Sallie Mae
    Sponsorship Development Sandra Rockett, Dyersburg State Community College
    State Programs Liaison Tim Phelps, TSAC
    TASFAA Advisory Cmte TSAC Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee (as Past President)
    Training Larry Rector, Johnson University

  • 25 Jun 2014 10:48 AM | Deleted user

    July 2014 Webinar Titles and Descriptions

     

    Counseling Borrowers about the New 150% Direct Loan Limit

    New regulations may impact your students’ eligibility for funding. Do you know how to help borrowers understand the implications of the 150% Limit for Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans? Attend this session to review new regulations which limit Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility to 150% of a student's academic program length.  Join us as we discuss ways to educate your borrowers.

    • Specific topics covered include:

     

    • ·         Understanding the maximum eligibility period

    • ·         Examining loss of eligibility 

    • ·         Exploring ways to educate your borrowers

     

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Tasha McDaniel

          

    July 9 @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Counseling Borrowers about the New 150% Direct Loan Limit

    July 23 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Counseling Borrowers about the New 150% Direct Loan Limit

        

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

    Protecting student privacy is paramount. Understand what needs to be included in your school’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy and gain a working knowledge of how to ensure FERPA privacy requirements are met in real-world scenarios. Consider this course not just an introduction to the basics of FERPA, but also an in-depth guide to understanding the rights of students and their parents regarding student education records. The materials presented have been vetted by our privacy specialists to ensure that you get the most accurate and comprehensive assistance available.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Review of final rules
    • Student and parent rights and FERPA
    • Right to access, review, and amend an education record
    • Compliance, complaints, and enforcement

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Linda Peckham

    July 8 @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

     

    July 16 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

    Database Matches: Resolving Common Comment Codes

    This session reviews how the database matches following FAFSA completion impact student aid eligibility and what you can do to help resolve any issues that arise. Leave feeling confident about resolving C-codes and conflicting information.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Review of the Central Processing System database matches
    • Guidance on resolving database mismatches
    • Types of conflicting information and how to resolve them

    Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Michiale Schneider

    July 9 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Database Matches: Resolving Common Comment Codes

    Applying Federal Methodology

    How is a student’s financial need determined? Learn how Federal Methodology is used to calculate a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC)undefinedand be able to calculate an EFC. You’ll be better prepared when making financial aid awards.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Purpose of Federal Methodology
    • Guiding principles of Need Analysis
    • Components
    • Manual EFC calculations
    • Special circumstances

    Presenters: Linda Peckham and Keyimani Alford

    July 10 @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Applying Federal Methodology

    Loans I: Understanding the Basics

    Learn the basic details of the different federal loan programs so you can better understand, process, and encourage your students to make good borrowing decisions.

     

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Guidelines for educating students on the impact of borrowing loans
    • Types of federal loans and how they compare
    • Using NSLDS
    • The consequences of delinquency and default and what you can do to help borrowers avoid them

     

    Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Keyimani Alford

    July 10 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Loans I: Understanding the Basics

     

    Financial Aid for Beginners

    Learn the basics of financial aid and gain an understanding of how different programs work and how financial need is determined. This session will review how students apply for financial aid and how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) fits into the application process to help you better respond to the needs of your students and help them see that a college education is possible.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Deciphering the language of Financial Aid
    • Student eligibility requirements
    • Types of financial aid programs
    • Importance of FERPA privacy provisions

    Presenters: Linda Peckham and Keyimani Alford

    July 16 @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Financial Aid for Beginners

     

    Loans II: Helping Students Succeed in Repayment

    Gain a deeper understanding of preparing students for repayment. This session will cover borrower options for repayment and the consequences of default. You’ll come away with a thorough knowledge of loan basics that will help you educate your students on the impact of borrowing student loans.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Repayment options available to students
    • How to prepare your students for repayment
    • The consequences of delinquency and default and what you can do to help borrowers avoid them

    Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Michiale Schneider

     

    July 22 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Loans II: Helping Students Succeed in Repayment

    Understanding the Verification Process

    Baffled by the complexities of verification? This session will give you the information you need to simplify the verification process into three easy steps. We’ll also define some common issues found during the review process and how you can resolve them.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Understanding verification requirements
    • Step-by-step instructions for reviewing documentation and completing the verification process
    • How to resolve verification findings

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Linda Peckham

     

    July 30 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Understanding the Verification Process

    Understanding the FAFSA: It All Starts Here

    Get a comprehensive overview of the FAFSA. This session steps you through the FAFSA line by line. We’ll help you feel comfortable assisting your students so they can correctly complete this crucial first step to receiving federal financial aid.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Applying for financial aid
    • Answering dependency questions
    • Processing the FAFSA

    Presenters: Keyimani  Alford and Linda Peckham

    July 23 @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Understanding the FAFSA: It All Starts Here

     

    Great Lakes Default Management Tools: Learn, Access, Implement

    Staying in touch with borrowers who are struggling with repayment can help you minimize your cohort default rate.  Great Lakes tools can help you with these important outreach efforts. This session will show you how to use our Borrowers at Risk report and Delinquency Letter Tool to connect with former students and steer them away from default. You’ll also learn how schools have successfully tackled specific default challenges using our tools.

     

    Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Michiale Schneider

    July 24 @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Great Lakes Default Management Tools: Learn, Access, Implement

    Don’t Fear the FISAP

    Are you a new director faced with completing your first FISAP this fall?  Make the FISAP process more manageable by starting with a plan for collecting the data from your enterprise system.

    New aid directors faced with completing the FISAP (Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate) for the first time are often overwhelmed by the scope of the report. But the FISAP process can be made easier and less daunting if you start early with a plan for how and where to collect the necessary data. This webinar will provide a step by step review of the FISAP sections, guidance on how to collect data in advance, and advice for how to minimize submission errors.

     

    Guest Presenter - Heather McDonnell, Associate Dean of Financial Aid and Admission, Sarah Lawrence College

    Heather McDonnell has over 30 years of experience in financial aid administration at both public and private institutions. She is an expert on federal processing issues and need analysis and an experienced financial aid trainer for NYSFAA, the College Board and EASFAA.

    Specific topics to be covered include:

    • What is the FISAP and why is it required?
    • What data is collected on the FISAP and what does the Department of Education do with the data?
    • The FISAP sections
    • Where and how to pull your institutional data for each FISAP section
    • How to submit the FISAP
    • Possible error messages and what they mean

    Presenters: Linda Peckham and Heather McDonnell

    July 29 @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Don’t Fear the FISAP

  • 21 May 2014 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    June 2014 Webinar SmartSessions

    Crafting a Social Media Strategy for Your Financial Aid Office   

    Your students are regularly using social media to communicate. Do you know how to use social media effectively in the financial aid office?  Many financial aid offices have been slower to build a social media presence due to concerns about student privacy or resources. Aid offices that have successfully deployed social media platforms have reported vast improvement in their two-way communications with students. This webinar will review the steps needed to plan and build a social media presence for your aid office on Facebook or Twitter and explore specific strategies for improving two-way communications with students.

    Specific topics include:

    • Pros and cons of implementing Facebook or Twitter in the aid office
    • Crafting a strategy
    • Writing effective content
    • Turning regulatory language into effective social media content

    June 3rd           @ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Crafting a Social Media Strategy for Your Financial Aid Office  

    June 12th @ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Crafting a Social Media Strategy for Your Financial Aid Office  

    Presenters: Liz Gross and Linda Peckham

     

    Financial Literacy: What You Need to Know to Educate Your Students

    Financial education helps student’s make wise decisions about money and credit.  You can create and tailor your own financial literacy programs by mastering basic concepts. This train-the-trainer session will give you all of the essentials you need to provide financial education to your students. You’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and create your own presentation to educate your students so that they make wise financial choices both during school and after graduation.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • How to craft your own program
    • Strategies for engaging students
    • ·         Components of a financial literacy program

    June 12th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Financial Literacy: What You Need to Know to Educate Your Students

    June 18th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Financial Literacy: What You Need to Know to Educate Your Students

    Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Michiale Schneider

     

    Life after Default

    The consequences of loan default can be devastating to your borrowers. Attend this session to learn how loan default can affect the student’s credit profile and what you can do to help them.   Borrowers who default on student loans not only damage their credit, but face having their tax refund and other benefits withheld, and the possibility of wage garnishment and legal action.  These penalties can last for years, making it difficult for them to get a loan to buy a car or home, rent apartments and in some instances, secure employment.  However, once a borrower has defaulted, they haven’t completely run out of options.  This session will share what happens when borrowers default and explore the options available to them afterwards.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·          What happens when borrowers default
    • ·         Options available to borrowers after they have defaulted
    • ·         Ways you can help them

    June 10th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Life after Default

    June 18th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Life after Default

    Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Keyimani Alford

     

    Doing More with Less: Finding Balance

    If your budget was cut, would you know how to find other resources to maintain service to students? Attend this mini-session to learn how to cope with budget cuts by looking elsewhere for resources.  During these rough economic times it’s common to be asked to cut a certain percentage of your budget. What comes to mind when you’re told to “do more with less”?  We’ll provide several suggestions for finding untapped resources and invite you to share success stories and tips for budget-stretching ideas at your institution.

    • Specific topics covered include:
    • ·         Aligning your strategies with your resources
    • ·         Uncovering hidden resources – thinking “outside the box”
    • ·         Tapping into staff strengths

    June 25th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Doing More with Less: Finding Balance

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Keyimani Alford

     

    Good is Good, but Why Be Average? Tips for Improving Customer Service

    • Today’s financial aid office is expected to provide quality customer service to students. Do you know how to ensure your office is always providing optimal service to students and parents?   The best way to improve customer service techniques is through an assessment of your current service level and the creation of specific goals for improvement. This participatory session will show you specific ways to improve customer service results.
    • Specific topics covered include:
    • ·         Supporting institutional policies while maintaining customer satisfaction
    • ·         Understanding ways to resolve customer complaints
    • ·         Learning to take the H.E.A.T.

    June 17th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Good is Good, but Why Be Average? Tips for Improving Customer Service

    June 26th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Good is Good, but Why Be Average? Tips for Improving Customer Service

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Tasha McDaniel

     

    Citizenship Status and Title IV Aid: Confirming Eligibility and Ensuring Compliance

    Citizenship status confirmation can be time consuming and confusing. Do you know how to evaluate the various ISIR comment codes and confirm eligibility by obtaining the correct documentation? 

    This session will provide guidance on how to understand the various ISIR citizenship comment codes, clarify which citizenship status categories can result in Title IV aid eligibility, and show you how to obtain appropriate documentation to ensure compliance before awarding and disbursing aid.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Evaluating eligible and ineligible student categories
    • ·         Deciphering the various  citizenship match comment codes
    • ·         Understanding  acceptable documentation for each category
    • ·         Moving through secondary confirmation

    June 17th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Citizenship Status and Title IV Aid: Confirming Eligibility and Ensuring Compliance

    June 24th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Citizenship Status and Title IV Aid: Confirming Eligibility and Ensuring Compliance

    Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Linda Peckham

     

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

    Do you feel stressed when it’s time for your annual A133 audit? Would being selected for a program review cause you anxiety? This session will explain what you can do to be well-prepared and proactive, and limit your liability. You’ll leave this session with a more organized approach and a thorough understanding of audits and program reviews.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • The types of audits
    • Possible triggers
    • Proactive preparation
    • What to do when you’ve been selected
    • What to expect

    June 11th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

    June 25th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Keyimani Alford

     

    Verification: Four Simple Steps to Completion

    Get the right dollars to the right students, on time. We’ll show you the easiest steps to completing verification based on recent policy changes and review common issues that arise.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Determining who needs to be verified
    • Reviewing required documentation
    • Resolving conflicting information
    • How to understand IRS transcripts – and when to ask for more information
    • Making corrections

    June 11th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Verification: Four Simple Steps to Completion

    June 24th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Verification: Four Simple Steps to Completion

    Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Tasha McDaniel

     

    Satisfactory Academic Progress: Moving Students in the Right Direction

    To be eligible for FSA funds, a student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and schools must have a reasonable policy for monitoring that progress. Learn the basics of the SAP policy and how it affects you. This session will review the requirements so you can respond to your students’ needs and move them toward successfully completing the program for which they are receiving aid.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Understanding institutional requirements
    • Identifying student eligibility requirements
    • Appreciating the differences between qualitative and quantitative components
    • Exploring consumer information requirements

    June 5th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Satisfactory Academic Progress: Moving Students in the Right Direction

    June 26th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Satisfactory Academic Progress: Moving Students in the Right Direction

    Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Tasha McDaniel

     

    Great Lakes Default Management Tools: Learn, Access, Implement

    Staying in touch with borrowers who are struggling with repayment can help you minimize your cohort default rate.  Great Lakes tools can help you with these important outreach efforts. This session will show you how to use our Borrowers at Risk report and Delinquency Letter Tool to connect with former students and steer them away from default. You’ll also learn how schools have successfully tackled specific default challenges using our tools.

    June 4th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    Great Lakes Default Management Tools: Learn, Access, Implement

    Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Keyimani Alford

     

    NSLDS undefined I Made It In, Now What?

    NSLDS provides comprehensive data that you can use to verify financial aid history and counsel borrowers about repayment strategies. Do you know how to find the information quickly and efficiently?  If you are not familiar with its functionality you might miss important tools and overlook information. This session will show you the NSLDS functionality and highlight the core components of this powerful database. 

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Understanding the purpose of NSLDS
    • Demonstrating NSLDS functionality
    • Reviewing  Awarding Parameters
    • Decoding  Symbols and Panels

    June 10th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    NSLDS undefined I Made It In, Now What?

    June 19th@ 3 PM, Eastern time

    NSLDS undefined I Made It In, Now What?

    Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Michiale Schneider

     

    Assessing your Leadership Style: Know Thyself and Plan Accordingly

    Aid directors are often hired for their Title IV expertise but need to quickly develop their natural leadership skills. Do you know what your leadership style is and how to use it to your advantage?

    This webinar will help you uncover your style preferences and to work with others in ways that achieve success for the office. Using the Myers - Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, participants will develop a better understanding of their leadership strengths - as well as areas in need of improvement - and use that knowledge to improve communication, build teams, and manage conflict. Registrants for this webinar will be offered the opportunity to complete an MBTI assessment prior to the event.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Explanation of the four MBTI preference scales
    • Overview of MBTI whole types
    • How MBTI preferences inform leadership styles
    • How MBTI preferences influence communication

    June 19th@ 12 PM, Eastern time

    Assessing your Leadership Style: Know Thyself and Plan Accordingly

    Presenters: Linda Peckham

    Janet Dodson – Associate Director, Tuition Exchange, Past NASFAA Chair, and Certified MBTI Counselor

    Sara Vancil – Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, The University of Kansas, and Certified MBTI Counselor

  • 13 May 2014 1:26 PM | Anonymous

    9 Tips to Help Protect Your Students from Identity Theft

    Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director
    Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

    More than 10 million people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds fall victim to some type of identity theft each year. The majority of identity theft incidents (85 percent) involve fraudulent use of existing credit card or bank account information. Fraudulent use of personal information to open a new account, however, can cause additional stress by creating financial, credit, and relationship issues.

    With existing accounts, financial institutions often discover the fraud and inform victims of the activity. But unauthorized accounts opened fraudulently are frequently not discovered until the victim is contacted by the creditor or receives notice of unpaid invoices.

    Anyone with a Social Security number may be targeted for identity theft. Credit reports should not exist for young children. If you find one does, this is a red flag that may indicate fraudulent activity. The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking your child's credit report beginning around age 16, and every six to 12 months until they turn 18.

    Even if victims of identity theft don’t experience financial loss from these crimes, fraudulent information and accounts that remain on their credit report may impact interest rates or financial opportunities they may qualify for, costing victims for years to come.

    Teaching your students simple, common-sense steps they can take to protect their personal information, assets, and credit score satisfies an essential part of their financial education, and helps to safeguard their financial future. Direct  your students to Knowledge Center on mygreatlakes.org, or to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information for additional resources about Identity Theft.

    9 Tips to Help You Avoid Identity Theft

    • 1.    Pay attention to all correspondence you receive to be sure you catch invoices for accounts you may not have authorized.
    • 2.    Check your financial and health care statements each month for fraudulent charges, and immediately contact the financial institution, merchant, or health care provider about discrepancies.
    • 3.    Protect personal information such as your full name, birth date, Social Security number, and financial and medical account numbers. Beware of phone, online, or email scams that ask for any of your personal information. Get a shredder and be sure to use it.
    • 4.    Closely monitor your credit by requesting your free annual credit reports from http://www.annualcreditreport.com. You can order your annual report from each of the three major credit bureausundefinedEquifax, Experian, and TransUnionundefinedat the same time, or you can opt to receive one every four months to review activity more frequently.
    • 5.    Use secure Wi-fi when accessing sensitive information online. Also be sure to check that the site is secure by looking for "https://" in the site's URL before entering personal information
    • 6.    Use available two-step account verification and strong passwords, and don't leave passwords where they may be discovered. Don't use the same password for all of your online accounts.
    • 7.    Avoid paying for identity protection services, which may use deceptive marketing practices. Instead protect your accounts and check your statements and reports on your own.
    • 8.    If you think your Social Security number may have been compromised, putting a security freeze on your credit reports denies new creditors access to your file if anyone tries to open new accounts in your name. Keep in mind that this includes you, too, unless you contact the bureau.  
    • 9.    Set up text and email alerts for your accounts to inform you when unusual or unauthorized activity may be occurring.

    Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at dbowman@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at schools.mygreatlakes.org.

  • 09 May 2014 9:29 AM | Anonymous

    Analyzing Your Student Loan Data

    Sign up today!  TSAC's Default Aversion Field Reps will be presenting a “hands-on” training session for analyzing federal student loan data from NSLDS School Portfolio Reports.  The session will be held Wednesday, May 21st from 10:00am to 3:00pm,  at TSAC in Nashville.  Lunch will be provided. 

     

    Space is limited so contact Jill Vickers at Jill.Vickers@tn.gov  to reserve your place.  Participating schools are asked to  bring their own laptop, on which a copy of their School Portfolio Report has been downloaded from EDconnect.

     

  • 02 May 2014 9:33 AM | Anonymous

    Return of Title IV (R2T4): It's as Easy as Pi

    Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director

    R2T4 and the mathematical constant pi have something in common. Each of them is a simple concept that can be difficult to fully comprehend. For that reason, we're happy to give you a hand by simplifying R2T4, and pointing you toward other helpful resources. (You'll want to see a math professor for help with understanding pi.)

    The logic for Return of Title IV (R2T4) is straightforward: if a student ceases attendance prior to the planned ending date, he or she may not be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds they were scheduled to receive. Where it gets more complicated is figuring out the definitions and calculations for the return of funds, depending on whether the academic program is term-based, with or without modules, or non-term clock or credit hour.

    Modular programs, which offer students flexibility to enter and withdraw from school during a defined period of enrollment, create unique challenges. R2T4 calculation errors, among the more common audit and program review findings, can be costly and inconvenient. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) suggests that performing these calculations accurately is easier if you:

    • ·         Use comprehensive systems to monitor and accurately track the number of days completed in the payment period.
    • ·         Implement effective procedures for tracking enrollments and monitoring deadlines related to R2T4.
    • ·         Establish communication alerts between campus offices involved with monitoring student attendance.

    Timely and accurate R2T4 calculations may allow student loan customers who don't return to school within the grace period to experience the full advantage of their grace period, which can help lower your school's default rates. Regardless, to allow students to make informed decisions about withdrawing from all classes, you'll want to clearly communicate the following in your consumer information:

    • ·         Requirements and procedures for officially withdrawing from the school
    • ·         The school's tuition refund policy
    • ·         The treatment of Title IV funds when a student withdraws

    There are many resources available to help with making accurate R2T4 calculations. Session 21 from the 2013 Federal Student Aid conference provides helpful definitions, clarification, case studies, and other resources, such as information about signing up for ED's free R2T4 on the Web (https://fsawebenroll.ed.gov/PMEnroll/index.jsp). You may also find it helpful to participate in free trainings, such as a SmartSessions™ webinar Great Lakes offers on Credit-based Programs and R2T4, or others that are available.

     

     

    Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at dbowman@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at schools.mygreatlakes.org.

  • 02 May 2014 9:22 AM | Anonymous

    13 Tips to Relieve Spring Stress in the Financial Aid Office

    Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director


    While closing the door on winter should be a relief, spring brings one of the busiest seasons to the financial aid office. If you're feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, check out 13 tips we've compiled to help you streamline your work, control your environment, and take care of yourself to optimize your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

    1)    Minimize distractions so that you can complete important projects. Forward your phone to voice mail for a brief amount of time, and turn off email and mobile device notifications to minimize interruptions and create concentrated, productive time. Checking the most difficult or important tasks off your list gives you a huge mental boost, leaving you in a better mindset to handle all the other things that crop up.

    2)    Don't let email clutter slow you down. Create folders to organize your emails as you get them, and use the search feature in Outlook to find them more quickly. If you're working in an Outlook environment and have colleagues who overuse the "reply to all" option, look into the NoReplyAll Outlook add-in to help your office reduce email clutter. 

    3)    Leverage existing channels to help your students help themselves. Record a walk-through training of your online counseling tool, for example, or provide a quick tutorial at orientation, and then use your office's social media channels to let students know how it may be accessed to save you - and them - time.

    4)    Know when to go old school. If you've gone back and forth three times on something via email, pick up the phone instead, and get it sorted out in a real conversation. Better yet, get up from your desk and visit a colleague if they’re not too far away.

    5)    Feel too busy to take lunch? Low blood sugar does not help concentration, mood, or energy, making it a bad idea all-around to skip lunch. If you must, keep working during the quiet time when others are at lunch, but be sure to take a lunch break when they return. And, if you're having a particularly rough morning, a short time away with a colleague for lunch may help your perspective or even identify a way to ease the stress.

    6)    Investing time to learn to use your tools can have a huge, repeat payoff in time saved later. For example, consider using a Microsoft Word merge feature that lets you send a document to multiple people, allows them to make changes, and then merges everything back into one document, letting you select the changes you want to keep.

    7)    Take a walk outside or do some simple exercises at your desk, like breathing or stretching, to get the blood flowing. It will give you a fresh outlook, renewed energy, and release some of the tension that may have built up in your body while you worked. A few minutes invested can make you immensely more productive.

    8)    Automate repeatable tasks and simplify projects by using shortcuts, bookmarks, and speed-dial for your most frequently used resources. Create templates for your most commonly used documents. Record work processes on paper so they can be shared easily with others who may be able to help with them. Look for apps that reduce your workload. Financial Aid Director Scott Cline, for example, has been able to toss out the legal pad and sticky notes with an app called Drafts for iOS.

    9)    Not everything can be handled electronically in the aid office. Set up a left-to-right workflow for paperwork on your desk. It comes in on the left, is processed in the middle, and goes out on the right.

    10) Take a tip from one of your colleagues, who shared this suggestion in our Listening Sessions. Set up an account with SignUp Genius and share the link with students who need to make an appointment with you. With students scheduling their own appointments, you'll save timeundefinedand with automatic reminders, students are more likely to keep the appointment they set.

    11) Laughing and smiling release chemicals in your body that improve mood and energy. If you've ever laughed in the most stressful of situations, you may remember how good it felt. Looking for and acknowledging the humor in any stressful situation with a laugh or a smile, even to yourself, helps you keep things in perspectiveundefinedand keep going.

    12) Pick up other tips through free training. Consider signing up for Great Lakes' May SmartSessions™ webinar, Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management, or find other, similar free trainings that may provide relief for you and your stressed colleagues.

    13) At the end of the day, take a few minutes to clear the electronic and paper clutter, so that tomorrow you can avoid the aftermath of today. A fresh start offers the promise of a better day.

    Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at dbowman@glhec.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at https://schools.mygreatlakes.org/.

  • 24 Apr 2014 3:02 PM | Anonymous

    Five things every default management plan needs

    Submitted by Doug Savage, TG Senior Regional Account Executive

     

     

    This past March, the higher education industry let out a collective groan as draft 2- and 3-year cohort default rates (CDR) were released. Draft rates aren’t made public, but the last official rates undefined made public in September 2012 undefined were on the rise with the 2-year CDR at 9.1 percent (for fiscal year 2010) and the first official 3-year measurement coming in at 13.4 percent (for fiscal year 2009). By all indications, that rise should continue, given the steep growth in student debt and a sluggish labor market.

     

     

    If there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of student loan default, it’s that the increase is forcing many schools to candidly evaluate how well they support their student borrowers. It’s also motivating schools to expand efforts in things like debt management undefined to find more ways to send the message: “We’ve got your back. Here are some things you can do now and later to succeed in repayment.”

     

    A school’s default management plan typically lays the blueprint for campus self-assessment and borrower education. Schools sometimes see the default management plan in a negative light, since the Department requires the plan for schools with high default rates. But a good plan can serve a strategic purpose. It can be the key to unlocking campus collaboration and getting many departments invested and working on default prevention. It can spur research on why students default. And it can lay out a comprehensive vision of how to tame default and promote a campus culture that champions the student borrower. Also, upper management is more likely to see value in the effort and throw weight into the project.

     

     

    Five elements of a good default management plan

    You don’t have to build a plan from scratch. The Department of Education provides a template on which a school can model its own plan. The Department advocates attacking default throughout the life of the loan. This means educating students in their options before they borrow and supporting them as they repay, especially if their loans enter delinquency. Here are some other suggestions to make your school’s plan more robust.

     

    ·                     School self-assessment undefined An institutional self-assessment can go in many directions. Ideally, it should provide a baseline for your school’s default prevention efforts, showing what your school does to tackle default and how well it performs. To find this baseline, you could consider how effectively your school helps students graduate on time and ready to manage loan repayment. You might put together a history of your institutions’ default rates. And you could talk with students, faculty, and staff about what your school can do to better engage students so they feel supported and prepared when repayment time comes. Other areas of self-assessment could include enrollment management practices, financial literacy education, and even campus life and culture.

     

    ·         Analysis of borrower default undefined An analysis of trends in default could be part of a school’s self-assessment, but it could stand by itself also. Why? An analysis will likely contain the seeds of expanded or new efforts in helping borrowers succeed in repayment, and a separate section could highlight these opportunities. Generally, an effective statistical analysis will look for trends among borrowers whose loans enter default. For example, borrowers who leave school prematurely without a degree may be prone to delinquency and then default. Other factors that schools might consider: grade point average, Pell-eligibility, part-time enrollment status, enrollment in a particular program of study, local labor market conditions, and borrowing levels by socioeconomic background.

     

    ·                     Tactics and strategies undefined The heart of any good plan is the section that lays out what a school will do to better manage default. In the “Tactics and Strategies” area, the school should use its default analysis and self-assessment as a foundation on which to recommend new or expanded initiatives that address weak points in borrower support. For example, if borrowers without a degree tend to default more, schools could consider how to maintain students through degree completion. Or if data shows that borrowers from a given major have high rates of default, a school could consider how to smooth the path to employment for this group.

     

     

    ·                     Default taskforce undefined It’s a good idea to get multiple departments involved in default prevention, since many departments can affect the issue. Creating a taskforce made up of representatives from such departments as admissions, the registrar, financial aid, faculty, and other areas is key to the success of any school’s default prevention. The school’s default management plan could designate members for the taskforce and define their areas of responsibility with regard to default prevention.

     

     

    ·                     Success measures undefined Plan developers should consider factors that contribute to default, establish measures that address these factors, and then set goals for these measures. These goals should be evaluated periodically to show progress or the need for improvement. As an example, a school could require students to take a certain number of debt management trainings. Or it could commit to reducing default for a segment of borrowers by a given percentage.  The value of putting such goals on paper is that doing so makes clear what success in default prevention looks like for the institution.

     

     

    Resources to tap now

    If you’re looking for an example default management plan, the Department of Education offers a comprehensive one, which can be downloaded through the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. You could also do an online search to find examples. Or you could turn a third-party servicer that provides default prevention services for fee.

     

    Doug Savage is a senior regional account executive with TG serving schools in TASFAA. You can reach Doug at (800) 252-9743, ext. 6711, or by email at doug.savage@tgslc.org. Additional information about TG can be found online at www.TG.org.

  • 24 Apr 2014 2:56 PM | Anonymous

    May 2014 SmartSessions

    Customer-Centric Service in the Aid Office: Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Training

    Quality customer service in the aid office is critical to your institution. Do you know how to train your team to provide a customer-centric approach? Comprehensive customer service tools empower your staff to engage with students, solve problems proactively, and improve results. A solid training program is critical to this effort. Come to this session to learn how to build and implement a customer centric training program in your office.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Understanding a customer-centric approach to service
    • ·         Designing and implementing an effective training program
    • ·         Reinforcing attitudes and behaviors for continuous improvement

    May 6th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Customer-Centric Service in the Aid Office: Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Training

     

     

    May 22nd @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Customer-Centric Service in the Aid Office: Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Training

     

     

    NSLDS:  I Made It In, Now What?

    NSLDS provides comprehensive data that you can use to verify financial aid history and counsel borrowers about repayment strategies. Do you know how to find the information quickly and efficiently?  If you are not familiar with its functionality you might miss important tools and overlook information. This session will show you the NSLDS functionality and highlight the core components of this powerful database. 

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Understanding the purpose of NSLDS
    • ·         Demonstrating NSLDS functionality
    • ·         Reviewing Awarding Parameters
    • ·         Decoding Symbols and Panels

    May 8th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    NSLDS:  I Made It In, Now What?

     

     

    May 15th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    NSLDS:  I Made It In, Now What?

     

     

    Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management

    You can’t change aid processing deadlines, but you can change how you approach your work. Learn to make the most effective and efficient use of your time and get the most out of your workday. Spend an hour now to save time later. Learn about methods and tools, including eating the frog first, that can help you make the most effective and efficient use of your time.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         Analyzing your behaviors and habits
    • ·         Top five time management mistakes
    • ·         Developing a personal plan

    May 8th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management

     

     

    May 20th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management

     

     

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

    Do you feel stressed when it’s time for your annual A133 audit? Would being selected for a program review cause you anxiety? This session will explain what you can do to be well-prepared and proactive, and limit your liability. You’ll leave this session with a more organized approach and a thorough understanding of audits and program reviews.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • ·         The types of audits
    • ·         Possible triggers
    • ·         Proactive preparation
    • ·         What to do when you’ve been selected
    • ·         What to expect

    May 1th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

     

     

    May 28th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review

     

     

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

    Protecting student privacy is paramount. Understand what needs to be included in your school’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy and gain a working knowledge of how to ensure FERPA privacy requirements are met in real-world scenarios. Consider this course not just an introduction to the basics of FERPA, but also an in-depth guide to understanding the rights of students and their parents regarding student education records. The materials presented have been vetted by our privacy specialists to ensure that you get the most accurate and comprehensive assistance available.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Review of final rules
    • Student and parent rights and FERPA
    • Right to access, review, and amend an education record
    • Compliance, complaints, and enforcement
    • Target Audience:

    May 6th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

     

     

    May 20th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies

     

     

    Credit-Based Programs and R2T4

    Return of Title IV (R2T4) doesn't have to be daunting. This session walks through a credit-based example to help you understand what it is and when it applies so you can effectively counsel students and help them make informed decisions about withdrawing from school.

    Specific topics include:

    R2T4 basics: what it is, when it applies, the formula components for credit-based programs

    Reviewing a hand calculation

    Post-withdrawal disbursements

    May 21st @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Credit-Based Programs and R2T4

     

     

    May 29th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Credit-Based Programs and R2T4

     

     

    Managing Loan Default: Making a Difference in 60 Minutes

    Managing default prevention activity is important to your institution but requires resources and time. We can show you how to improve your default rate with just a little extra effort each month.  By dedicating just 60 minutes each month, you can lower your school’s cohort default rate, and facilitate your ultimate goalundefinedhelping students avoid the negative consequences of loan delinquency and default.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Options for contacting late stage delinquent borrowers - emails, letters, and phone calls
    • Promoting IBR and Pay As You Earn to early and mid-stage delinquent borrowers
    • Reaching out to borrowers during their grace period

    May 7th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Managing Loan Default: Making a Difference in 60 Minutes

     

     

    May 14th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Managing Loan Default: Making a Difference in 60 Minutes

     

     

    Professional Judgment Perplexities

    Professional Judgment is helps you target funds to students with exceptional need. But Professional Judgment principles must be applied wisely and responsibly in order to be effective and compliant. 

    This participatory session reviews complex case studies to show how you can help students get the aid they need by making adjustments to either the expected family contribution (EFC) or the student’s cost of attendance.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Why and when to use professional judgment
    • Permissible actions and required documentation
    • Common scenarios – loss of income, changes in assets, extraordinary expenses
    • Dependency override
    • Maintaining a professional judgment policy

    May 13th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Professional Judgment Perplexities

     

     

    May 22nd @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Professional Judgment Perplexities

     

     

    Difficult Conversations: How to Manage Conflict While Providing Customer Service

    Does your front line staff know how to deal with difficult situations in positive ways? This webinar will demonstrate proven techniques for diffusing conflict while providing great customer service.  The financial aid process can be frustrating and emotionally challenging for both parents and students. This heightened anxiety can play itself out in the aid office when parents and students direct anger and frustration at counselors or front line staff. Your teams’ ability to diffuse a difficult conversation and create a problem-solving approach is crucial to your customer service effort.

    Presenter:

    Shannon Patterson, M.S., Instructor in Business Administration and Conflict Management at Argosy University.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Bridging conflict management and customer service
    • Depersonalizing anger and emotion
    • Using reflective listening to gain control
    • Strategies for problem-solving that result in trust

    May 15th @ 12:00 PM, Eastern time

    Difficult Conversations: How to Manage Conflict While Providing Customer Service

     

     

    Your First Day as New Director: 5 Things you need to do to Ensure Success

    Are you a new Financial Aid Director or aspire to be one? New aid directors face unique challenges in their first days on the job. This session will help you successfully transition to your new role.

    Presenters:

    Janet Dodson, Associate Director, Tuition Exchange, and Past NASFAA Chair

    Gail Holt, Dean of Financial Aid, Amherst College

    Specific topics covered include:

    • First day essentials: security updates and reports to review
    • Assessing your office culture – your team and your peers
    • Identifying roles and responsibilities
    • Securing resources

    May 29th @ 12:00  PM, Eastern time

    Your First Day as New Director: 5 Things you need to do to Ensure Success

     

     

    Successfully Navigating the Multi-Generational Workplace

    The financial aid office often includes employees from the Boomers to the Millennials resulting in various work styles.  Do you know how to manage this diversity and build a strong team?  The complexities of working in a multi-generational environment can be rewarding if you understand how and why different age groups approach and value their work.

    Specific topics covered include:

    • Understanding what each generation values 
    • Learning how different generations communicate: face to face or click to click
    • Managing conflict that results from the various styles
    • Learning to value our differences

    May 7th @ 3:00 PM, Eastern time

    Successfully Navigating the Multi-Generational Workplace

  • 24 Apr 2014 2:50 PM | Anonymous

    The Campus Financial Aid Office Pressure Cooker

     

    Submitted by Ted Lannan, Inceptia Market Research Director

     

     

    Inceptia’s release of their 2013 online national survey has garnered striking results. Inspired by a pioneering 25 year-old California stress study and built upon the indispensable findings of surveys such as the Parthenon Groups’ 2013 release, “How Can Improved College Services Better Retain Students?”, Inceptia’s recently completed stress study survey has uncovered a correlation between stress levels in nationwide financial aid offices, employee productivity, and student/borrower dissatisfaction that is difficult to dispute.

     

     

    Briefly stated, the results of the survey show a critical need for relief. A 2008 NASFAA survey of Financial Aid Administrators’ Job Satisfaction reported that more than 96 percent are proud of their job in the financial aid office, however nearly two-thirds of survey respondents regard the level of stress in a financial aid office to be different - more intense - than other offices. More than 60 percent of financial aid officers report inadequate budgets and number of staff. Partnered with high-stress indicators like a perpetually growing bump in financial aid applications, the expansion of the Pell Grant program, consistent regulatory paperwork and policy changes, and increasing demand for quality student-FAO face time, a measurable recipe for disaster is in the making.

     

     

    Inceptia’s stress study breaks down these high-stress indicators into four “pain point” categories delineated by the Parthenon Groups’ 2013 study. Each category is studied empirically through respondent answers and compared with foundational survey studies of the past to measure growth over time, current relevancy, and create attainable solutions for institutions.

     

     

    The conclusion is clear: financial aid offices are in need of reinforcements in order to keep up with demand, and barring that reality, student borrowers and their families suffer the consequences of less-than-adequate services regarding their education, financial capabilities and future success.

    To find definitive solutions as to how can your institution can alleviate Financial Aid Office woes while offering students innovative solutions to their financial aid needs, download Inceptia’s full brief for more detail here.

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