Fall, 2003

Volume XXXVIII, Number 2

In This Issue:

From the President
Across the State
KBOR update
Fall Conference photos
Election Results
College Goal Sunday
Associate Committee Update
The Tax Man
USA Funds Hotline
Teamwork
USA Funds Scholarship
Funny Financial Aid Stories

The Oz-Sociated Press is published four times a year by the KASFAA Newsletter Committee:

Cindy Stanphill, Chair
Amanda Blue, Co-chair

From The President: Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson, KASFAA State President

In the last issue of the Oz-Sociated Press, I wrote about my concerns with outside contractors taking over the functions of a school's financial aid office now that technology makes it possible for the student to conduct financial aid business online. This article continues the theme of exploring the possible impacts of technology on student service. One possible outcome might be as disturbing to you as it is to me. What if financial aid bypassed the financial aid office entirely and went directly from ED to the student?

My thoughts for this article comes from four sessions that I attended at RMASFAA in Big Sky, Montana. The subject matter for these sessions were:

  • Generational Differences (session title: Meet the Millennial Generation)
  • The Evolving Financial Aid Office (session title: Points to Ponder)
  • Meteor
  • General FSA Update Session with Jeff Baker from ED

The session on the Millennial Generation was presented by Rick Delano of LifeCourse Associates. The purpose of the session was to help us look at the characteristics of our current and future students born since 1982. According to Delano and also based on information found at www.millennialsrising.com, the Millennial Generation is expected to use computer technology to build community. Computers will have been a part of their entire lives and they will be the most accepting generation yet of this technology. Based on this information, I could easily envision that these students might happily accept online contact and never know what they are missing with regards to face-to-face interaction with a financial aid counselor.

The session called Points to Ponder was facilitated by Paul Tone from Nelnet. Some of his ideas were very provocative. He was the one to suggest that aid could one day bypass the financial aid office and go directly to the student. The discussion was helped by the fact that Paul and other people in the audience have been in the business for many years and have been through many changes. At one point in time, students apparently got vouchers for aid and just took them to the school of their choice and paid their tuition - no financial aid office "middlepeople". Could that era be returning?

Jeff Baker talked about a centralized FSA data mart and Russ Judd presented a session on Meteor. Coming from different directions, they both came together in their enthusiasm for the possibilities that shared data mart technology provides for processing financial aid and creating an environment for technology to play an even greater role in determining eligibility for aid and confirming continued eligibility for aid already received.

So, here I am typing this article and maybe feeling a little uncertain now about my job security. I still have 15-20 years to go before retirement. My "upbringing" in financial aid has always involved personal contact with the student at some point along the way. I want to be there to help students through rough spots and help them make the right decisions to make sure that if they are going to get financial aid, especially loans, that the money is well-spent and the student persists and hopefully achieves his/her educational goals. Maybe I can do this sending emails back and forth to a student, but I don't relish the idea.

I get a lot out of seeing the student's reaction to what I say or from listening for uncertaintly in a student's tone of voice. I even get clues to what to do with a student if that person is yelling at me or crying or even says very little. I don't know if I can always catch those clues through an email contact.

So, I will be thinking about this each time that we implement a new computerized process that simplifies our job. I will be pondering strategies for ways to justify keeping myself personally involved in the financial aid process. Whether the danger is outsourcing or eliminating the school financial aid office from the financial aid process completely, we remove an opportunity to interact and make a difference with our students if we rely too much on technology.

Chris Johnson
President, KASFAA
University of Kansas

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