2024 NASFAA Awards Announced in Milwaukee

Awardees Exemplify Excellence in Serving Students and the Financial Aid Profession

Contact: Allie Arcese
Sr. Director, Strategic Communications
(202) 785-6954
[email protected]

MILWAUKEE, WI, JUNE 19, 2024 – 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 more than 2,000 student aid professionals from across the country in attendance.

NASFAA's 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor which the association can bestow on a member, was awarded this year to: 

  • Justin Draeger, President & CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
    Justin has served NASFAA and the financial aid community at large for more than two decades, the last 14 years as president of the association. Since assuming the NASFAA presidency in 2010, Justin has been instrumental in shaping the association’s success, growth, influence, relevance, and capacity to serve its members. During his tenure, Justin spearheaded several initiatives that elevated industry standards in the financial aid profession. Known for his direct and honest approach to advocacy and fostering personal relationships inside the beltway,Justin has transformed NASFAA into an essential, nonpartisan player on federal student aid and college affordability issues. Justin’s visionary guidance propelled NASFAA to new heights, championing crucial initiatives that have positively impacted students, financial aid offices, institutions, and the higher education landscape, and the association is indebted to his many years of service.

  • Billie Jo Hamilton, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Planning & Management at the University of South Florida.
    Billie Jo has dedicated nearly five decades to working in financial aid, making significant contributions to NASFAA's goals, including serving as the National Chair for the 2017-18 term. Her extensive knowledge of financial aid programs and the policies necessary for their administration is unparalleled. Currently, Billie Jo is active in the SASFAA region, having held numerous elected and appointed positions. She has also served on 14 committees across four different regions, taking on various leadership roles at the highest levels. Her dedication to the financial aid profession runs deep.

  • Michael Bennett, Associate Vice President of Financial Assistance Services at St. Petersburg College.
    Mike is a former NASFAA National Chair (2007-08), EASFAA President, and NJASFAA President. Mike's legendary passion for assisting colleagues at all levels of the profession, whether leading an association or mentoring those aspiring to rise through the ranks, is well-known. He has consistently offered support to those on his own campus and encourages everyone in financial aid to remember the purpose behind their work. Throughout his career, Mike has tirelessly worked to reshape Title IV aid, advocating for innovative, accelerated, and cost-effective learning models to benefit students. 

  • Dr. Janet K. Hanson, recently retired as the Director of Communications at Tuition Exchange, Inc.
    Janet has shown unwavering commitment to the financial aid profession throughout her 40-year career in various roles. Over her career, Janet has focused on training and regulatory services at both the state and federal levels. She also served for 14 years as the Director of Financial Aid at Doane College in Nebraska. Janet has held every position on the NASFAA Board of Directors, including National Chair in 2006-07, and has presided over associations in Kansas and the Rocky Mountain region. Her lifetime of active association work, influence at all levels, and impact on the numerous aid administrators she has mentored cannot be overstated.

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 2024 award was given to: 

  • Helen Faith, Director of Student Financial Aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASFAA’s 2023-24 National Chair.
    Throughout her 22-year career, Helen has held various elected and volunteer positions at the state, regional, and national levels. She is a former president of the Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA) and OASFAA (Oregon), and has served on NASFAA's Board of Directors as the WASFAA regional representative and as representative-at-large. Helen has engaged in negotiated rulemaking with the U.S. Department of Education and collaborated with numerous higher education associations on financial aid research and analysis projects. Helen's passionate belief in financial aid and higher education as catalysts for social change, along with a strong emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, drives her commitment to the profession.

  • James A. White, of Jim White Consulting.  
    With over three decades of steadfast advocacy and dedication to student support, Jim has made an indelible mark on the financial aid community. He recently retired as the Dean of Student Financial Services at Gonzaga University, where he identified and dismantled financial barriers impeding students' academic progress. His commitment to excellence is evident in his active participation in professional development initiatives such as SOE reviews, NASFAA advocacy, and various trainings and events. Jim’s relentless advocacy, outstanding leadership, and unwavering commitment to fostering student success make him exceptionally deserving of this recognition.

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 2024 award was given to:

  • Heather Boutell, Director of Student Financial Aid at Vanderbilt School of Medicine. 
    Heather has served the profession for over 30 years, holding leadership positions at the state and regional levels. She has also chaired and served in several national roles. A passionate advocate for her students, Heather has participated in the NASFAA Advocacy Pipeline and is a sought-after speaker for states and regions beyond her own. Her unwavering commitment to the financial aid profession and her active engagement in leadership and advocacy make her a deserving recipient of this award.

  • Kay Lewis, Assistant Vice Provost of Enrollment and Executive Director of Financial Aid at the University of Washington.
    Kay has a long history of service in professional associations and has mentored and supported many professionals throughout her career. She began her career as a financial aid counselor at the University of Washington, later working at Western Washington University and Whitworth College before returning to UW over 30 years ago to lead the Office of Student Financial Aid. With over four decades of experience, Kay has a deep understanding of the challenges students face in paying for college. She is actively involved in national discussions on financial aid reform and improvement.

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 2024 the award was given to:

  • Jeff Webster, who recently retired as the Trellis Company’s Director of Research.
    After leading the research team at Trellis Company (formerly TG) for 37 years, Jeff Webster retired in December 2023. His contributions to the field are numerous, with one standout achievement being the creation and ongoing management of the Student Financial Wellness Survey at Trellis, which launched in 2018 and has since surveyed 3.1 million students at 263 institutions in 34 states. Jeff's work has been groundbreaking in the realm of student finances, highlighting critical issues such as student loan default, loan counseling, and recently, student basic needs and their influence on student success. During his tenure overseeing Trellis' Research Department, he introduced predictive modeling to enhance student loan default prevention efforts and developed the first consumer-facing tool displaying student debt-to-income ratios by major and institution. 

NASFAA's Gold Star Award recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency. This award is open to individuals working at NASFAA member institutions; member institutions; regional associations; and state associations. In 2024, the award was presented to: 

  • Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Personnel (MASFAP), for their FAFSA Week of Action.
    The MASFAP Week of Action was initiated to increase awareness of the need to file the FAFSA, to provide support remotely to students and families as they try to complete the FAFSA, and to serve as a supplement to the in-person “FAFSA Frenzy” events taking place across the state or Missouri. This week-long effort, held in early January over four evenings, aimed to make the FAFSA completion process more accessible and manageable for everyone involved. 

  • Community College of Rhode Island, for their CCRI Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Initiatives.
    The Community College of Rhode Island’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Initiatives provide comprehensive support services to help students overcome financial, academic, and personal barriers to success that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through advising, counseling, training, outreach, and the addition of student success coaches, the initiatives aim to increase the number of financial aid appeals processed, reduce SAP-related aid suspensions, improve student retention rates, and promote academic achievement.  

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 – Kelly Morrissey, Dean of Student Financial Assistance and Scholarship, Community College of Rhode Island

  • MASFAA – Susan Teerink, Associate Vice Provost for Financial Aid & Enrollment Services, Marquette University

  • RMASFAA – Janet Riis, Director of Financial Aid, Carroll College

  • SASFAA – Dr. Sharon Oliver, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Scholarships/Student Aid, North Carolina Central  University

  • SWASFAA – Cindy Perez, Executive Director, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

  • WASFAA – G. Michael Johnson, (Retired) Director of Financial Aid, Columbia Gorge Community College

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email [email protected] or call (202) 785-6954.



The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 29,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. 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: 6/19/2024

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