Prepare your staff to survive the financial aid wilderness!

SWASFAA BOOT CAMP 2017
“Don’t just survive, thrive in the financial aid wilderness!”

When:  November 6th – 8th Where:  Great Wolf Lodge, Grapevine, TX

Attention all Financial Aid Directors, V.P.’s and everyone else tasked with managing precious training and travel budgets! If you have new financial aid staff and are not planning to send them to SWASFAA Boot Camp, I would like to offer a few things to consider.

What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.” Zig Ziglar, success speaker

If your office experiences a lot of turnover in newly hired staff, it can seem risky to invest in off-site training for a new team member before you know if they are in it for the long haul. But, perhaps investing in robust training early on could prevent some of that turnover. A well-trained employee is likely a happier and more effective employee, because they have the tools they need to be successful. Not investing in professional development for new staff sends a message that their role isn’t important enough to warrant that kind of investment. I personally can’t think of any role in the financial aid office that is “unimportant”.

Another benefit of investing in robust training for new staff is realized when vacancies occur in higher level positions. If you have been investing in training for your staff since they were first hired, you will have a greater pool of capable and prepared candidates to move in those vacant positions. They will have a solid financial aid knowledge that can transfer in to many new roles without requiring additional time to catch up on training and acquire skills.

Maybe you have an internal training program and struggle to justify the additional expenditure to send new staff to a training like SWASFAA Boot Camp. In my experience, new staff who complete our internal training program and then attend SWASFAA Boot Camp find their newfound financial aid knowledge truly solidified in a way they would not experience if they were trained within our office alone. Exposure to colleagues from other schools who share all of the various methods and practices with which we comply with the same regulations and accomplish the same goals is truly priceless. Trainings like SWASFAA Boot Camp allow financial aid professionals to see the “big picture” and understand the “why” behind the “how”.

The Boot Camp committee is made up of seasoned financial aid professionals, all of whom will have earned NASFAA credentials in the subjects they are presenting. We are excited to welcome your new staff in to the world of financial aid and equip them for a long and successful career!

Early bird registration for SWASFAA Boot Camp ends October 25th. Visit the SWASFAA Conference site for more details. https://swasfaa.org/docs/conferences/site/index.html

 

Nominations & Election

A few years ago my phone rang and on the other end of the line was Lisa Hopper, who at the time was SWASFAA’s past-president.   To my surprise she asked if I was interested in throwing my hat in the ring to run for SWASFAA’s president-elect.  Surely, I did not hear her correctly.  “Oh, boy, how could I be qualified?”    Way out of my comfort zone, like way out-in-left-field.   I took a huge leap of faith and said, “yes”

Looking back, I’m glad that I took the leap.  Having the opportunity to meet our SWASFAA members was definitely the highlight of 2016.  There is a reason why SWASFAA is a great organization, our members.  As president, I received tremendous support from past presidents, prior board members, and of course current board members.  Everyone “had my back”. Taking that leap of faith in spring of 2014 provided me not only tremendous professional growth, but a lifetime of wonderful memories.

If you’ve thought about becoming involved with the SWASFAA board,  please consider throwing your hat in the ring for one of the following positions:

  • President-Elect (Three year commitment)
  • Secretary (Two year commitment)
  • Oklahoma Delegate-At-Large (Two year commitment)
  • Texas Delegate-At-Large (Two year commitment)

The on-line Officer Nomination Form is available at the SWASFAA’s home page.  If you know a member who is interested in serving, but is shy about nominating herself/himself, please nominate her/him.  Of course, it would be a good idea to confirm with the member of her/his willingness to be nominated 🙂

If you have any questions about the commitment requirements for the open positions, please do not hesitate to contact me or any prior board member.   I have no doubt that current and prior board members will gladly share their experience.

Deadline for submission of nominations is June 30, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Three Institutional Factors Impacting Student Attrition

Submitted by Memory Keller of Student Connections

In addition to the primary research we conduct, such as through our work with students and academic experts on our Advisory Boards, Student Connections regularly reviews findings from around the industry. Recently, we examined factors impacting student retention at colleges and universities in the United States.

Financial aid and resources available
It’s no surprise that students most commonly abandon their pursuit of higher education because of money.  In fact, ACT identifies the amount of financial aid available to students as the number one factor contributing to student attrition rates for all types of colleges and universities. (Wesley R. Habley and Randy McClanahan, “What Works in Student Retention?” ACT, 2004, p. 10). Financial aid services is also listed among the top factors.  Further, Ruffalo Noel Levitz reports that the high cost of schooling, an obligation to obtain full-time employment because of financial need, personal emergencies and uncertainty about the return on investment from a college education all contribute to student attrition (“2016 National Report:  Freshman Motivations to Complete College,” Ruffalo Noel Levitz, 2016, p. 4).

Choosing the right school and program
In addition to finances, uninformed decisions regarding which institution to attend and a poor understanding of the matriculation process appear to be major factors in student attrition.  The Institute for Higher Education Policy reports that choosing which institution to attend is a complicated and confusing process, especially for first-generation and non-traditional students (Tiffane Cochran and Ann Coles, “Maximizing the College Choice Process to Increase Fit & Match for Underserved Students,” Institute For Higher Education Policy, 2011, p. 3). These students often do not have the background or access to tools that will help them fully consider the different pathways to the achievement of their educational goals. Once they do select an institution, they are often challenged by admission and financial aid processes.  These factors often lead to students not selecting the institution that would best meet their individual needs and subsequently dropping out before they achieve their educational goals.

Lack of involvement and engagement
The third institutional factor impacting student attrition is lack of student involvement in campus life.  According to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), the more involved students are with their institutions, the more invested they are in their education.  NSSE also has identified a correlation between student involvement and higher grades and completion rates.  It makes sense that feelings of safety and belonging can go a long way toward keeping students engaged and working toward their educational goals.

The good news in these variables lies in what they share in common: They are under institutional influence. There are steps you can take today at your school to improve student engagement, understanding of enrollment requirements and campus culture, and financial literacy. In fact, the more you consider these seemingly disparate areas, the more apparent it becomes that they are integrated aspects of one unifying goal: student success. You may find you have little control over one area. However, by seizing opportunities to make a positive difference in others, you can shape the common outcome they produce.

Come Together Right Now!

In the ever changing world of Financial Aid, we look to each other to help wade through the mud and the muck.  SWASFAA is here to give you an outlet to network, training, and best practices.  So, what does SWASFAA have for me?  That is a great question.  This year we have some very exciting things to talk about.  The political climate is unsure.  The Department is uneasy as to what happens next.  We are faced with many uncertainties.  So, what do we do…. “Come together right now!”

Please join us this year for training…We have webinars that will be throughout the year with best practices.  We have Mid-Level training with NASFAA credentials.  We have Boot Camp for beginners.  We have Leadership training with more NASFAA credentials.  We have conference at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapeville TX (DFW area)

Renew or Join with SWASFAA membership on our website.  It is as easy as 123 or ABC.

http://www.swasfaa.org/docs/forms/memApp.html

 

We are looking forward to a great year at SWASFAA.