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Financial Aid Best Practices

Financial Aid Best Practices

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Financial Aid Best Practices

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  1. Financial Aid Best Practices Crystal Finefrock, Associate Director of Financial Aid Plymouth State University Scott MacDonald, Director of Financial Aid, Transfer & Student Employment Southern Maine Community College Christine McGuire, Executive Director of Financial Assistance Boston University

  2. Scott MacDonald Director of Financial Aid, Transfer & Student Employment Southern Maine Community College

  3. What Constitutes “Best Practices”? • Is the Implication That Anything Other Than a Best Practice is “Just Getting By”? • Given Vast Regulatory Landscape, Are We Setting Ourselves Up for Mediocrity? • NASFAA “Standards of Excellence” & “Self-Evaluation Guide”

  4. What Others Are Saying About Us • To give away money is an easy matter, and in anyone’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how much and when, And for what purpose and how, is neither in everyone’s power nor an easy matter. Hence it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy and noble.” ~ Aristotle

  5. Best Practice Formulation Points & Characteristics • Answers Questions • Distills Complex Ideas • Provides Direction • Makes it Possible • Engages all Staff • Meets Quality Assurance • Adapts to Change • Mission/Purpose • Engages a Target Audience • Meets a Requirement • Provides Information • Promotes Access • Communicates Effectively

  6. Southern Maine Community College Examples: • Academic Competitiveness Grant Form and Practice • “Exciting Exits: One Institution’s Response to the Dreaded ‘E’ Word”

  7. Southern Maine Community College Examples: Student Loan Peer Counseling Video

  8. Plymouth State University Crystal Finefrock Associate Director of Financial Aid

  9. Once upon a time…

  10. Our destiny was…. CHANGE • Financial Aid Director Retires • Financial Aid IT Specialist Retires • SIS Conversion!!

  11. Where did we begin? We began by reviewing ”Best Practices!” • Business Process Mapping • Team Approach • Process Efficiencies • Paperless Process • Automated Processes • Correspondence and Website Review

  12. “Financial Aid – A Team You Can Count On!” Counseling – Expected to go beyond the basics Improved customer experience – “It’s all about YOU!” Proactive not reactive Think outside the box Positive energy is contagious Weekly staff meetings What were the results of our “Best Practices”…

  13. Recognition for a job well done Leveling of workload Easier to adapt to regulatory changes Collaborative and imaginative work environment - FUN Cost savings and “value added” to office processes Creation of Financial Literacy Initiative - $MART What were the results of our “Best Practices”…

  14. Christine McGuire Executive Director of Financial Assistance Boston University

  15. Childhood Dreams? How many of you dreamed of being a financial aid administrator? Or even of working in higher education?

  16. A Second Tier Profession? As a “niche” profession without flashy perks and large salaries, we are seldom a career to which young people aspire.

  17. Cuomo: School loan corruption widespread Large student-loan firm settles with N.Y. AG Sallie Mae to alter business practices, pay $2 million to education fund Cuomo: States Will Pursue Student Loan Fiasco

  18. Has the financial aid profession experienced the 5 stages of grief? Stage 1: Denial “I know my members. They play by the rules. They are ethical. They don’t cut corners. They don’t take bribes.” NASFAA President Dallas Martin, March 19, 2007 Stage 2: Anger "You have insulted not only our profession, but also each individual financial aid administrator who is a devoted professional." NASFAA President Dallas Martin, March 19, 2007

  19. Has the financial aid profession experienced the 5 stages of grief? Stage 3: Bargaining “By taking this more conciliatory stance, we also were able to begin a positive dialogue with his office to move beyond the accusations…we invited him to attend our Annual Conference and to address our conferees at our closing session.” NASFAA President Dallas Martin, June 28, 2007 Stage 4: Depression “The nation's college student-aid administrators came here [Washington, D.C.] last week as a group in need of healing.” Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2007

  20. Has the financial aid profession experienced the 5 stages of grief? Stage 5: Acceptance "You are the professionals who create opportunity everyday… It is the most honorable profession anyone could ever have." NASFAA President Dallas Martin, July 8, 2007 “’People have been wondering where we are,’ said Mr. Day, now chancellor of City College of San Francisco, in an interview earlier this month. ‘We need to ramp it up.’” New NASFAA President Philip Day, speaking with Kelly Field, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 18, 2008

  21. Is the Financial Aid profession in recovery, and do we need a twelve step program?

  22. 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession • Acknowledge what has changed in our daily work life • Engage in conversation with the staff constantly • Accept the increased level of interest of what we do, and necessity to be transparent

  23. Institutional gift policy Conflict of interest policy The process for evaluating and disclosing lenders or loans recommended, regardless of Federal or private credit 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession 4. Articulate clear policies regarding:

  24. 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession • Share your vision of why our career is important • Continually articulate the value of the work a staff member is performing. What is the contribution to the overall mission and to their professional development?

  25. 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession • Show appreciation for all staff and celebrate accomplishment Make time for some fun when possible and appropriate, but watch for too much of a “party atmosphere”, as it can be seen as unprofessional, and not all staff will appreciate too much time away from getting work done.

  26. Executive Director Director Associate Director Associate Director Senior Assistant Director Assistant Director Sr. Financial Aid Advisor Financial Aid Advisor Student Workers 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession Show path for advancement and advanced responsibility and job title, recognizing longevity and experience.

  27. 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession • Empower staff to fulfill your mission • Staff are the institution in the eyes and experience of students and parents “You are B.U.” 10. Model the professionalism you expect

  28. 12 Step Program for the Financial Aid Profession • Continue to set high expectations for yourself and your colleagues • Portray a positive image of your institution, your position in the school and of the financial aid profession

  29. Questions and Discussion

  30. Shared “Best Practices” at the 2008 New England Regional Form • Thank you to all who participated in our session, “Financial Aid Best Practices”. The following examples were provided by some of our audience members. Please contact them directly if you would like to hear more about the project listed. • From Donna Kendall at Bentley College: • “Our office manages student employment. In addition to recognizing the Student Employee of the Year at an annual event, the department where the student works has the honor of displaying a banner that reads, ‘Home of the Bentley Student Employee of the Year for 20XX’. We also began recognizing a student supervisor of the year two years ago.” • Contact:, 781-891-2913 • From Emily Liebling at GEAR UP Maine ( : • “Obviously we are not a financial aid office, but as a GEAR UP statewide program that serves over 3,000 students in 7-12 grades in Maine we have found the following things to be effective: • more district control of the implementation of their GU program • senior self-verification of their personal information to ensure we can match them to their FAFSA and know they’re eligible for a GU scholarship • collaboration with other statewide and local initiatives with similar goals, and post-secondary institutions in the state • a pod cast covering various topics (including financial aid) • Contact:, 207-272-5109 • From Tom Taylor at UMass Lowell: • “’Working On & Off Campus’. As part of orientation, we had career services and financial aid co-present a one hour session to all students. The objectives were • Perspective – to tie career goals with the benefits of working on and off campus, • Employment Readiness – to complete I-9’s and W-4’s (sent out with orientation packet) so that students working on campus would have all paperwork but the signed contract completed, and • Responsibility/Self Management – to help students understand how to best manage work and academic responsibilities • Contact:, 978-734-3933