By Owen Daugherty, NASFAA Staff Reporter
Outgoing 2019-20 National Chair Paula Luff provided updates on the current state of NASFAA last week during NASFAA’s Business Meeting and Policy Update, albeit in a different setting — sitting in her office for a virtual webinar instead of at NASFAA’s national conference in Las Vegas.
Luff lamented the cancellation of the annual conference due to COVID-19, but highlighted and praised NASFAA’s ability to adjust to the significant disruptions and still provide the financial aid community with timely and necessary information.
“No, this is not the year I planned, but it certainly is one I will never forget,” Luff said as she passed the gavel through her computer screen to incoming 2020-21 National Chair Brenda Hicks, director of financial aid at Southwestern College in Kansas, who picked up a gavel of her own.
“There’s a little Vegas magic for all of you. We can’t go to Vegas, so we are bringing Vegas to you,” Hicks said with a laugh.
Hicks then presented the Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award to Luff, recognizing her leadership in “capably and calmly guiding NASFAA’s ship through the COVID storm.”
During the meeting, Craig Slaughter, NASFAA’s diversity chair, was the first to give members an update, discussing the association’s Diversity Leadership Program, which graduated its second class of six individuals, one representing each region.
Daniel Barkowitz, chair of the Certified Financial Aid Administrator ® (CFAA) Commission, followed Slaughter and shared that there are now 154 individuals who have received the certification. He added that the application fee for the certification program is waived for those who submit an application before June 30, 2020, to encourage the program’s expansion.
NASFAA members also heard from Treasurer Keith Williams, who outlined the organization's financial health with a focus on the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“NASFAA as an organization has also been impacted by everything that is going on with COVID-19. It seems that absolutely no one is exempt from all this craziness,” Williams said. “Even during these atypical times, I am happy to let everybody know that the overall financial picture of our national association remains very solid.”
Finally, President and CEO Justin Draeger gave an overview of how Congress and the federal government have responded to the pandemic, noting the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and how it impacts the higher education landscape and the financial aid profession in particular. He also detailed the series of guidance from the Department of Education (ED) outlining how schools can obtain federal funding allocated in the CARES Act for both institutions and students and the flexibilities ED provided for schools to transition to online learning.
He also touched on the upcoming 2020 presidential election and outlined each of the likely nominees’ platforms regarding higher education.
Additionally, Draeger discussed NASFAA’s 2020 Summer Training Series, which takes the place of the cancelled national conference, and encouraged members to stay up to date on all things related to the pandemic and Title IV aid with NASFAA’s COVID-19 Web Center, which is continuously being updated.
For those wishing to watch the full meeting, the webinar is available on demand for free to NASFAA members.
Publication Date: 5/26/2020