Professional Development – A Way to Navigate Through the Financial Aid Wilderness

Sent on behalf of Connie Riley, Boot Camp Committee Member

It is no secret Financial Aid professionals continuously have to adapt to changes. Federal, State, and Institutional policy changes always trickle down to the Financial Aid Office. It seems we learn one regulation one day, only to have it become obsolete the next. Combined with the everyday stresses of phone calls from parents and students, receiving verification documents, and everyday interruptions, we can feel like we are wandering in the wilderness.

Professional Development is imperative for Financial Aid Professionals. Training opportunities, like the ones provided at the SWASFAA Boot Camp and Conference can provide an excellent service to your office. There are four reasons why it is so important to make time for professional development:

  1. Increase knowledge base – Attending programs where you learn something helps you to develop in your area of expertise. This can not only help your office; it can help your school.
  2. Meet new people – Opportunities to collaborate with others and obtain some ideas for best practices can help you. When you attend professional development trainings, there will be a lot of people you do not know yet. NETWORK! Meet others who deal with the same issues, and see what opportunities are available for you to expand upon.
  3. Expand your rolodex – Developing new connections and developing relationships with others in your field can be helpful if you run into a situation for which you feel you need to get a second opinion.
  4. Develop new resources- In addition to what you learn from the program content, you can learn even more from the other people in attendance. You can get advice from others who have “been there, done that.” Attending professional development programs are a great way to delve into the knowledge base of others and their areas of expertise.

Last year, I attended the SWASFAA Conference in Oklahoma. I attended several different sessions, but one in particular stands out. The speaker asked for us to talk about best practices in dealing with loan counseling. I came away with a couple of ideas for our office, and we have since implemented them. For me, this made the trip worth the time it took away from my office.

Don’t get lost in the wilderness of Financial Aid. Take this great opportunity of Professional Development offered at the SWASFAA Boot Camp and Conference. You will have the ability to meet colleagues from different states, network, learn something, and share what you already know with others. We look forward to seeing you in Grapevine.

Connie Riley
Boot Camp Committee Member
Financial Aid Analyst
Southern Arkansas University Tech

Let’s go camping!! Boot Camp 2017

Don’t just survive, thrive in the financial aid wilderness!

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

Greetings!  Way back in 2011 my director thought it would be a great idea to send me to the New Aid Officers Workshop that TASFAA offered.  I had been out of the financial aid world for a while and was persuaded back (it’s like you can try to leave, but you never really do).  So here I am, a guy from Oklahoma in a room full of folks from Texas.  I must say, it was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my professional career.  From that workshop, not only did I get a great refresher, but I made a lot of contacts with other financial aid colleagues and have made life-long friends. 

Now you will have the opportunity to experience what I did by attending the SWASFAA BOOT CAMP.  During this three day training you will have the opportunity to network and meet colleagues from the great SWASFAA region, refresh your financial aid knowledge, learn new information, and share what you know. 

Being involved in SWASFAA has really helped me professionally.  Like I stated earlier, I have made great contacts with others in our profession and have really developed strong, life-long friendships.  It is really great to be able to pick up the phone or send an email to someone with a question or issue and know that you are going to get an educated response.  I hope that you will be able to join us November 6th – 8th at the Great Wolf Lodge for this incredible professional development opportunity. 

 Let’s get packing and get ready to go camping!  Hope to see you all soon!

Jason R Marrujo, M.S.
Boot Camp Committee Member
Manager, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
College of Osteopathic Medicine


Boot Camp 2017- Are you ready for the wilderness?


Don’t just survive, thrive in the financial aid wilderness!

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

Boot Camp will be an exciting adventure this year as we learn the basics of financial aid. New hires will not only feel equipped to survive the vast amount information but will also learn how to thrive in the face of federal regulation changes. The three day training will provide a foundation in financial aid as well as the added components of professional development, the chance to network across our great region, and the opportunity to NASFAA credential in 10 financial aid topics! We have dedicated trainers ready to make this the best training yet.

I hope you will join us for this wonderful experience. More information including the agenda, hotel, and registration will be provided soon. An email will be sent out to the listserv once registration is live.

Should you have any questions regarding Boot Camp, please contact me at or 210-458-7295.


Sarah Webb
SWASFAA Boot Camp Chair 2017
The University of Texas at San Antonio

Building Knowledge to Serve Students

Hello, friends!

I hope the beginning of October is treating you well. Has anyone’s office slowed down yet? I would assume not with PPY and the FAFSA opening on October 1st, but this opportunity allows us to help students take the steps in attaining their college dreams for an extended period of time. I love serving students and parents. Knowing you make a difference in the lives of others is such a wonderful gift we are given in our profession.

In order to be able to fully and efficiently serve students, it is crucial to have the knowledgebase in your field of expertise. If you need to build or refresh your financial aid knowledge, we have just the place for you! Boot Camp will allow you to build your financial aid knowledge one brick at a time. Boot Camp will be a jam-packed two and a half days, but you will walk away with invaluable information, connections from all over our region, and the opportunity to test for NASFAA Credentials (11 topics to be exact). Trust me, you do not want to miss out!

Our Boot Camp trainers have 57 years of combined financial aid experienced and are ready to help you build/refresh your knowledge or prepare you for the NASFAA credentials! In case you have not had the opportunity to read about us and our (AWESOME) fun facts, now is the time take a gander: You can also view our agenda:

Boot Camp will cost $275 which includes 4 meals provided and the ability to credential in 11 NASFAA topics. Hotel reservations must be made by this Friday, October 7th in order to get the $139 room rate. Late registration will begin on October 29th and the price will be $325.

**The SWASFAA Board recently made a policy change and we will now allow non-SWASFAA members to attend Boot Camp. Non-SWASFAA member price will be $375. If you are interested in attending Boot Camp as a non-SWASFAA member, please contact Mendy Schmerer directly via email,, so you can be registered manually.**

If you have any questions about Boot Camp, please do not hesitate to contact Mendy Schmerer or myself. We hope to see you in a little over a month in OKC!


Sarah Webb
SWASFAA Boot Camp Co-Chair 2016

Mid-Level Workshop Provides 2 Credential Opportunities

Hello SWASFAA friends

There is a coolness in the air, along with the smell pumpkin spice everything, and sweaty athletes in our offices, I think that means it is officially Fall. What else comes with fall? That’s right, the best association conference in the country!

SWASFAA 2016 is just around the corner and I can’t wait to spend the better part of a week in beautiful Oklahoma City with all of my SWASFAA friends. I know the conference is coming together nicely, and the boot-camp trainers are working hard to impart their knowledge on our new folks, but what about the more seasoned financial aid folks? Well, that’s where the mid-level workshop comes in! We have a busy Wednesday morning planned this year with TWO NASFAA credential opportunities scheduled!

Shannon Crossland, our newly elected SWASFAA President-Elect will be presenting Consumer Information, and I will be presenting Cash Management this year. That is $200.00 worth of credentials for only $75.00!

Remember registration closes October 28th for the training, registration, hotel, and more information is available at the conference mini site,

I look forward to seeing you soon in Oklahoma City!

Brent Small