2020 NASFAA Awards Announced

Awardees Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students and the Financial Aid Profession

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 – Each year, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) presents awards to deserving members of the financial aid profession and higher education community. These awards are reviewed and selected annually by NASFAA’s Awards Committee and ratified by the Board of Directors. 

NASFAA this year recognized two recipients with its 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor which the association can bestow on a member: 

  • Ron Day, Director of Student Financial Aid, Kennesaw State University. Day has given unselfishly of his time and knowledge to help others in the financial aid profession for over 30 years. He is a strong advocate for what he believes to be true and right and is never afraid to ask the tough questions. Ron has been a mentor to many in his state, the region and nationally. He served as 2012-13 NASFAA National Chair, during which time he focused on fostering a cohesive and participatory board and helping his peers grow as leaders and gain stature as a profession. Ron received NASFAA’s Allan Purdy Distinguished Service Award in 2013 and been honored by GASFAA with the Donald E. Payton Lifetime Achievement Award, and with SASFAA’s Distinguished Service Award. Ron recently announced a July 1 retirement date; we thank him for his years of service.

  • David Gelinas, Director of Financial Aid, Davidson College. Throughout the course of his career, Gelinas has given a lifetime of service to the financial aid community. He has held virtually every committee position at the state, regional and national level, and has served as both state and regional president. Fondly known as “Sheriff Dave,” he served as 2005-06 NASFAA National Chair, and during his tenure, he encouraged NASFAA members to serve as catalysts for positive change in college-going behaviors and urged members to advocate for the primacy of need-based aid in policy decisions. Gelinas has announced he’ll be retiring July 10, and we thank him for his leadership and support of the profession through the years.

The Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest awards that NASFAA bestows, may be awarded either for significant contributions in the furtherance of NASFAA’s goals over a sustained period of time, or for a single contribution of momentous importance. The 2020 award was given to: 

  • David Sheridan, Director of Financial Aid, Columbia University – School of International and Public Affairs. Throughout the course of his career, Sheridan has worked with both undergraduate and graduate students and in both the private and public sections. In previous positions, he has overseen offices of the registrar, admissions, bursar and new student orientation, in addition to financial aid. He has served as a member of NASFAA’s Higher Education Committee of 50, chair of NASFAA's Federal Issues Committee , chair of NASFAA's Graduate and Professional Loan Limits Task Force, NJASFAA Past President, NJASFAA Past Chair Federal Relations, EASFAA Past Training Chair, EASFAA Past Federal Relations Chair, EASFAA Past Conference Chair, and EASFAA Conference Chair.

  • Paula Luff, Vice President for Enrollment Planning and Management, Ball State University. With nearly 30 years of experience as a financial aid administrator, over the course of her career Luff has worked with financial aid professionals across the country while serving in state, regional and national associations. In 2017, she was honored with the NASFAA Regional Leadership Award (MASFAA). She has served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as a Representative at Large and Commission Director, sat on NASFAA's Association Governance Committee and Financial Affairs Committee, and in 2018 was elected as the 2019-20 NASFAA National Chair. She is a Past-President of ILASFAA at the local level and MASFAA at the regional level. Luff has worked with the U.S. Department of Education as an alternate on the Negotiated Rulemaking Program Integrity and Improvement Team and is a co-founder Illinois Private Aid Directors Consortium. She is a consummate professional, a passionate mentor and leader, a champion of traditionally underserved populations, and a steady hand at the helm of NASFAA in a time of immense change in the world and the profession.

The Meritorious Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has made either an important single contribution to NASFAA or the profession, or multiple significant contributions. The 2020 award was given to:

  • Craig Munier, assistant director of policy, liaison and implementation (Retired), U.S. Department of Education. Munier’s career in financial aid has spanned nearly four decades; during this time, he has consistently and passionately advocated for students, financial aid programs, and aid administrators. He has led the financial aid community in its efforts on three different fronts over his tenure. During his career, Munier served as NASFAA's 2013-14 National Chair, National Chair of COSUAA, and chair of the National Direct Student Loan Coalition. As NASFAA Chair, Munier convened policy task forces on Consumer Information, Program Integrity, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Professional Ethics. NASFAA recognized Munier with the Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award in 2014. He also served as a NASFAA trainer and has shared his wealth of knowledge in countless updates, town halls, and presentations.

The Robert P. Huff Golden Quill Award is presented each year to an individual, or organization, chosen for their contributions to the literature on student financial aid. Published works must exemplify the highest quality of research methodology, analysis, or topical writing on the subject of student financial aid or its administration. In 2020 the award was given to:

  • Center for American Progress (CAP). This Washington, D.C.-based public policy research and advocacy organization was chosen because of their overall body of work, which greatly enhances the lives of students and families — and particularly for their work on “One and Done: Modeling a One-Time FAFSA.” To determine if a one-time FAFSA could be implemented and who it would most help, CAP worked with Association of Community College Trustees and NASFAA to gather data from 27 colleges around the U.S. for nearly a quarter of a million student who filled out the FAFSA at least two times. CAP’s findings suggested that a one-time FAFSA could be implemented for all students, which would yield universal benefits to students and colleges.

The association also presented six Regional Leadership Awards to recipients who have exhibited high integrity and character, have shown creative leadership, and have inspired and encouraged others to actively participate in professional development. One award was given in each of six regions to:

  • EASFAA – Neville Brown, Associate Director of Financial Services, Eastern Connecticut State University

  • MASFAA – Aaron Steffens, Associate Director of Financial Aid, Luther College

  • RMASFAA – Vicki Kucera, Area Director of Student Financial Services, Central Community College

  • SASFAA – Keith Reeves, Systems Business Analyst, Clemson University

  • SWASFAA – Shannon Crossland, Senior Director, Compliance and Administration, Texas Tech University

  • WASFAA – Kim Wells, Federal Student Aid Training Officer, U.S. Department of Education

The Gold Star Award, which recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency, was given in 2020 to:

  • Florida Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (FASFAA) – Clock Hour Workshop. Florida’s financial aid administrators professional association, FASFAA, has long been known for offering training to clock hour financial aid administrators. FASFAA embarked on a nationwide outreach effort to provide training and education to financial aid administrators. In total, FASFAA had 153 attendees at its three-day workshop, with 52 attendees from out of state (representing a total of 16 states).
  • Honorable Mention: University of South Florida - #bull2bullreduceyourdebtchallenge: A Peer-Based Financial Badging Program. Within the program, students are encouraged to fight debt and leap over financial pitfalls by completing course modules on money management, credit building, investing, and student loan borrowing and repayment. Students have only one semester to complete the challenge by earning badges. Each badge gives them 1 entry into a $500 loan forgiveness drawing that is awarded at the end of Fall and Spring semesters. The challenge is dedicated to making a meaningful impact on student success by teaching money management concepts that will help students make smart financial decisions in the future.

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email Director of Marketing and Communications Erin Powers at powerse@nasfaa.org.

About NASFAA

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.

Publication Date: 6/3/2020

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