NASFAA 50th Anniversary Conference Days 3 and 4

Day 3 was a full day! NASFAA sponsors a breakfast for state and regional Presidents during the conference. This is a great way to meet other Presidents and get to know what they do a little bit. Of course, it was the third day of a meeting/breakfast at 7am which is a little difficult but it was a good meeting. Justin Draeger discussed new ways for states/regions to collaborate with NASFAA and updates on their training events. Much focus on NASFAA university and state/regional collaborations. I know that both EASFAA and NYSFAAA are looking into this possibility.

Several good sessions occurred throughout the day. There was a good variety of sessions available for leadership offerings and for nuts and bolts kinds of sessions. The annual awards luncheon and business meeting was today with a very special national award going to NYSFAAA retiree Heather McDonnell. It was a well deserved award for Heather and it was good to see her back!

The afternoon sessions included the annual Federal Uodate with Jeff Baker, Lynn Mehaffy and Jeff Appel. Before this we had remarks from Ted Mitchell, Undersecretary of Education. He gave an update on the Higher Education priorities of the President during the last 191 days of his administration. He has an app counting down the days! Priorities include streamlining income contingent repayment programs and streamlining the FAFSA (of course). In addition to this is getting the PPY changes and Early FAFSA off and running smoothly. They do care about how it happens. Per Jeff Baker the guidance on conflicting information will come out most likely this week. There were changes in clarification of questions even within the timeframe of the conference so it will be interesting to see what comes out.

Today was the final day of a very good conference. It began with a speech from Rep. John Kline, chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. There are positive things about meeting in DC! He gave an update on Reauthorization talking about five recent bills that have come out. Justin and Meagan McLean-Covell gave a legislative update also and then took questions. It really appears that NASFAA is well respected on the Hill and that is good for us. They are being taken seriously and that is good for us! It is not anticipated that we will see much happen with Reauthorization before the next administration gets started and then there will be a learning curve but hopefully 2017 will see major progress.

All in all it was a very successful conference! Hanging out in DC for a couple of days before heading back to NY. See you all soon!

NASFAA 50th Anniversary Conference Days 1&2

Okay so I am a little late on starting this since it is now day 3 but I will begin with Sunday. First the weather! I have to say it has been sunny and warm so far in Washington DC. Saturday was perhaps a little too warm with temps in the 90’s and quite humid but now it really nice! Of course we spent most of the day indoors!

I volunteered to work the registration desk on Sunday morning. Volunteering for a 7:30am – 10:00am shift seemed great a couple months ago. At 6:00am it no longer felt that way. And there are 2500 registrants for this conference (give or take) and Sunday is the first day so it was certainly BUSY! But I will say it was quite rewarding also. I felt much better about doing it afterward.

The day’s events began with a NASFAA chorus made up of over 50 volunteer FA administrators singing patriotic songs. They did a really wonderful job! Our keynote speaker was Jeanette Walls, author of the best-selling novel “Glass Castle”. She was simply amazing to say the least. She told of her meager upbringing in Arizona and West Virginia with parents who could not provide for her and her siblings for various reasons. She told her story through tears and much laughter and really made us thought about how we view people from different walks of life and how we are all the same even though we are different.

I could tell by the early sessions that it is going to be a very educational conference. My first session was on modules and Title IV eligibility. Good lord could they make it more confusing and make less sense? I only say that because the rules make it that way. The trainer, Greg Martin, was extremely knowledgeable and it was not his fault it is a very complicated process! He did a great job. I heard that the PPY session was not only standing room only but the crowd was also out the door. It certainly will be an interesting Fall semester.

Sunday evening was truly wonderful as NASFAA celebrated it’s 50th anniversary with a buffet dinner, drinks, and dancing. It was very nice!

Monday began a full day of sessions and they were very good. I actually started at 7:00 am with an EASFAA meeting so it was a long day. Lots of great sessions. A lunch we heard from Rep. Bobby Scott who is the ranking member of the Committee on education and yhe workforce. He is very much an advocate for student aid and should be commended for his work. We also heard from 5 former students who are now very successful in their chosen fields and credit receiving financial aid for them breaking out of difficult family circumstances. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

The HEA Review was very good also. Justin Draeger has a way of delicately but decisively putting legislative staffers on the spot (in a good way mostly). Senator Murray’s staffer Bryce and Senator Alexander’s staffer, Bob Moran were there. The House staff sent their regrets. Interesting! That allowed the Senate staffers however to place some blame on the House. Interesting comments about Reauthorization discussions taking place currently, especially in regards to One Grant, One Loan and accountability.

Just starting day 3 now so will send a message about that later. Perhaps I will be able to see some sights tonight!

Announcement of Governor’s Minimum Wage Increase for SUNY

I would like to invite discussion on this. Thank you Jim Gathard for raising the questions that you have raised for the SUNY announcement on the wage increases. The Bursars and Financial Aid Directors received an email from SUNY that answers some of the questions that you raised. Below is the email we received.

“While the particulars of SUNY’s approach to this change will be presented to the SUNY Board of Trustees at next week’s meeting, I thought it important to share the foundations from which decisions will be made:

– General:
o Incremental direct State tax support will being requested to cover costs estimated to be caused by 2015/16 and 2016/17 rate increases, as well as future increases,
o Increases would only impact hourly employees that are not represented by a collectively bargained unit,
o Increases to the minimum wage will have to be approved by the Board of Trustees,
o The impact on student financial aid packages will have to be taken into consideration when offering hourly wages to students.
– State-operated Campus Specific:
o Specific technical information will be provided following Board of Trustees review and approval.
– Community Colleges and Statutory Colleges:
o Actions related to minimum wage increases at the community colleges or the statutory colleges will need to be approved by the individual local Board of Trustees, or of the Boards of Trustees of the respective statutory college.

Thank you, and we will follow-up with further information following the upcoming meeting of the SUNY Board of Trustees”.

That said, of course there will be impacts to students awards and hours worked. In the 23 years I have been at SUNY Canton we have had the exact same CWS allocation. Through many wage increases we have tried to balance raising awards and awarding fewer students to best provide for our student population. We do not expect any increases to federal allocations and as mentioned in SUNY’s email there will be requests for additional state matching funds.

Wage increases have always been difficult to manage and will continue to be that way, especially since the jump will be much larger over the next few years. We expect more information from SUNY as it develops.

What do you all think? What do you forsee as an impact for your institutions, whether SUNY or private?

Kerrie Cooper
NYSFAAA President

NASFAA – Day 4 and Done!

This morning we had a final breakfast meeting and Federal Update with Jeff Baker and Lynne Mehaffy from ED. It started within a nice speech by new National Chair Dan Mann on his goals for his Chairmanship this coming year.

Then a special guest, Mr. Larry Romo, Director of the Selective Service Administration, presented a plaque to NASFAA recognizing the assistance that financial aid administrators give in helping young men to register.

The Federal Update provided some general information on some of President Obama’s proposed initiatives and more information on all of our favorite topics like Gainful Employment, SULA, ATB Career Pathways and other hot topics.

Overall it was a very worthwhile conference and I commend NASFAA on another job well done! Now heading off to the pool to relax for a little bit (once it stops raining!).

I would love to hear from other NYSFAAA members who attended the conference here in New Orleans on what your favorite part of the conference was or on something new that you learned.
Please respond and get some conversation going!

See you soon back in NY!


NASFAA 2015 – Day 3

Wow, this was a long, tiring, but very rewarding day!

It started with a State and Regional Presidents breakfast with Justin Draeger, NASFAA President, and Eileen O’Leary, National Chair. It was very nice and we learned some things about how NASFAA can assist our organizations. Justin has really made this a partnership with organizations and it is nice to be included.

Really great sessions today and so many to choose from. I couldn’t attend them all but really enjoyed the ones I did attend. The last session was called “Inside the Beltway-NASFAA Federal Update”. Justin Draeger and Megan McLean talked about the present political climate and what is going on currently with reauthorization. We have a long way to go but there is movement. One thing that they both encouraged is grassroots advocacy. On the Perkins front he mentioned that there is actual movement in the House which has surprised him within the last few weeks. It has been mentioned that Republican Representatives may consider extending Perkins with enough pressure. It is a long shot but more than was there a month ago. Our work is not done yet so please keep contacting your representatives!

At lunch the Eileen O’Leary turned over the reins of National Chair to Dan Mann from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I look forward to working with him.

Tomorrow morning the conference will wrap up and it has been a wonderful experience. I recommend this conference to anyone who can get there.

Have a great night!