2018 NASFAA Awards Announced in Austin

National Association Bestows 2018 Awards on Financial Aid Administrators Who Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 – 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. They are presented each year at the National Conference, with over 2,300 student aid professionals from across the country in attendance.

NASFAA's 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award, the very highest honor which the association can bestow on a member, was awarded this year to Bonnie Joerschke, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid at the University of Georgia.

Joerschke has spent the last 43 years of her professional life advocating for the ideals of NASFAA and the financial aid profession. Over the span of four decades, she has served on and/or chaired committees for NASFAA, SASFAA, MASFAA, SWASFAA, GASFAA, and OASFAA. She has been a leader in reauthorization and legislative efforts, including chairing the NASFAA Higher Education Act Reauthorization committee in 2012-13. Her leadership accomplishments also include serving as chair of six other NASFAA committees and presenting a total of 34 times at affiliated national, regional, or state organizations over her distinguished career. During her career, Joerschke has made a difference in the lives of thousands of students.

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 2018 award was given to Billie Jo Hamilton, associate vice president for enrollment planning and management at the University of South Florida.

Hamilton has made significant contributions in the furtherance of NASFAA’s goals over a sustained period of time, including serving as National Chair in 2017-18. Her career has spanned 35 years and five states. Currently, she supervises the offices of admissions, registrar, and university scholarships and financial aid services at the University of South Florida. She has served on several NASFAA committees as the chair or commission director and has presented numerous times at the NASFAA Leadership Conference. She has also held a three-year term as a Representative-at-Large on the NASFAA Board of Directors. Hamilton has served at every level of the state, region, and national associations and is a shining example of servant leadership. Her depth of knowledge and commitment to the profession has been extremely valuable over the years.

NASFAA this year recognized three recipients with the Meritorious Achievement Award, which is presented individuals who have made either an important single contribution to NASFAA or the profession, or significant multiple contributions. The 2018 award recipients are:

  • Joan Berkes (retired), former senior policy analyst at NASFAA. Berkes retired in 2017 after more than 30 years at NASFAA, making significant contributions that have played a key role in NASFAA’s success and in helping schools better serve students. She began her career working in admissions and financial aid at a public four-year college in upstate New York, joined NASFAA in 1986 as part of the Training team, and eventually became part of the Policy and Federal Relations team. As a former aid administrator, NASFAA trainer, and policy and advocacy expert, Berkes has had a view of financial aid development, practice, and implementation that few will ever see.
  • Anna Griswold (retired), former assistant vice president of undergraduate education; executive director for student aid at Pennsylvania State University. Griswold retired from Penn State after 27 years of serving students there and 48 years in the financial aid profession. Under her direction, the Finaid-L listserv was created as a means for aid officers around the country to communicate. Throughout her 48 years of service, she remained active in professional organizations, serving on the Direct Loan Coalition Board, authoring white papers, and volunteering with PASFAA, EASFAA, and NASFAA. She is a charter member of the Coalition of State University Aid Administrators, or COSUAA, and serves on the executive board of the Higher Education Loan Coalition that advocates for improvements to federal student loans. At Penn State, Griswold holds a Faculty Senate Appointment, and serves on the Financial Literacy Advisory Board and on the Governance Committee of the university’s Student Information System.
  • Roy Lopez, senior regional/financial aid advisor at Texas A&M University. Lopez’s commitment and willingness to serve those in need in the financial aid and academic world spans over 25 years. He has helped low-income students and students with disabilities succeed, and is still striving to make an impact after many years of service. Lopez is the founder and CEO of the annual Fiestas Patrias Mexicanas event. The mission of this 27-year-old event is to promote education through cultural celebrations, the arts, and scholarships for post-secondary education. Through his leadership, Fiestas Patrias has provided over $300,000 in scholarships to students with financial need. Lopez is involved in many other organizations and has written numerous articles in the La Voz Hispanic newspaper on topics related to obtaining a post-secondary education. He is always focused on helping his colleagues, the community, and students.

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

  • EASFAA – Odette Franceskino, director of financial aid, Quinnipiac School of Law
  • MASFAA – Val Meyers, associate director of financial aid, Michigan State
  • RMASFAA – Art Young, director of financial aid, Utah State University
  • SASFAA – Nathan Basford, loan processor, Florida State University
  • SWASFAA – Janell Valdez, associate director of student financial services, University of New Mexico-Health Sciences Center
  • WASFAA – Kathleen Campbell (retired), dean of financial aid and veterans services, Chemeketa Community College

Two Gold Star Awards, which recognize innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency, were given to:

  • University of Texas at Austin for its “eTASFA” project, which was developed to modernize the application portion of the process and allow students to electronically report financial data through a self-serve web solution. eTASFA went into production in October 2017 after 18 months of development. As of February 2018, approximately 160 students have used it, saving 20 hours per week of staff time.

  • CUNY Brooklyn College for its “Data-Driven Financial Aid Cohort Advisement Model,” which was designed to assist low- and middle-income and first-generation families in navigating the financial aid application process. After implementing the model, the percentage of CUNY Brooklyn College students receiving some sort of financial aid increased 22 percent from the previous year. The model provides students with vital information about student loans and stresses the importance of maximizing federal and state grant eligibility, which led to a direct reduction in student loan borrowing.

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email [email protected] or call (202) 785-6959.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten 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. 

Publication Date: 6/26/2018

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