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. The Gold Star Award honors up to three ideas each year.
The awards nomination process is now closed. The 2023 award winners will be announced this summer at the NASFAA National Conference.
2022 Gold Star Award Winners
University of Alaska Fairbanks – Nanook Resilience Program
- Project Objective: The goal of the Nanook Resilience program is to provide financial support and additional advising services to students that identify themselves in a financial crisis. The intent is to provide essential support to students at risk of dropping classes due to a perceived financial need.
- Executive Summary: The Nanook Resilience program brings together offices from across campus to look at a student's indicated financial crisis in a holistic manner. The partnership they have with other departments across campus has been essential to making the program work with limited financial resources. Though sponsored by the financial aid office, this committee works with a student to resolve their issue even when money is not available. The program has been successful in retention efforts, as they are able to provide assistance to students in need before they withdraw from school. They found that students have more than just financial concerns, and need a comprehensive support system. They fund the students who need it, but they're also providing support that lasts longer than a check. They're teaching their Nanooks to be resilient.
The Rebekah Hoppel Salcedo WASFAA Leadership Program
- Project Objective: The goal of the program is to build future leaders in the WASFAA region through mentorship, focused training and collaborative group work.
- Executive Summary: The WASFAA region is made up of eight states of varying sizes and one common issue is lack of volunteerism. Each state association has been struggling to find volunteers for committees or those willing to run for office. Many of them have had to forgo elections over the last few years and carry over officers or cut programs and training to financial aid professionals. The RHS Leadership Development Program was created to promote leadership opportunities for the region and for the states. Each participant was paired with a mentor and asked to meet regularly on a schedule that worked for them. The intention was to give the participants an opportunity to learn alongside those in current leadership roles, and to gain exposure to the inner workings of the association. An added benefit was to bring together the training chairs onto one committee, which allows for ongoing development and realignment of the various programs as training needs evolve in the profession.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Special Circumstances - Helping Families Help Themselves
- Project Objective: To create a more efficient, streamlined method for students and families to determine if submitting a Special Circumstance with the Office of Student Financial Aid could result in receipt of additional aid.
- Executive Summary: After a monumental number of special circumstance requests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign created an online tool to assist students and families determine their eligibility for institutional professional judgment opportunities. Using a walk-through where students/families can answer questions about their circumstances, they are directed to budget increase forms and/or possible special circumstances forms to be reevaluated for need-based aid. This has helped students and families to better understand the special circumstance process and how they can qualify, or if an alternative such as a budget adjustment is available. Our office sees the additional benefit in a reduced number of ineligible applications. A launch of the online walk-through tool in October 2021 has already shown an improvement of the processes for the 2021-2022 cycle, setting a groundwork of success for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year.
Past Gold Star Award Winners