Financial aid professionals from across the country gathered Monday in Washington, D.C. to kick off NASFAA’s 2018 Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo, to gain knowledge and insight into the management issues that current and future leaders in the field are facing today.
NASFAA has hosted an annual leadership conference for almost 50 years and has seen it triple in size to 300 attendees as more tracks were added to explore increasingly pressing issues, such as the relationship between enrollment management and financial aid.
Over the next two days, attendees will have the chance to connect with financial aid directors from various institutions and explore the important role enrollment management plays, gain new leadership skills as new or aspiring financial aid directors, and hear from experts on the characteristics needed to serve as leaders in association management roles. On Wednesday, attendees will have the opportunity to interact with lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill and advocate on behalf of their students.
Kerry Hallahan, the director of financial aid at Logan University, has returned to the conference this year after participating in the association management track at a previous conference to explore the interplay between enrollment management and financial aid.
“Financial aid is a very important aspect to the enrollment management model,” Hallahan said. “I’m here to learn so I can participate with admissions — we don’t currently have an enrollment management division. I’m hoping this will prepare me to be a better leader within my institution.”
Erika Ogedegbe, the information technology (IT) director for enrollment management and retention at The George Washington University (GWU), said that the conference is “a unique opportunity to interact with colleagues from other institutions.”
“Interestingly, even with the broad array of institutions represented, many of our goals are very similar, as are our challenges,” she said.
First-time attendee Timothy Mention, a senior financial aid officer at York Technical College, also said he chose to attend the conference to connect with other professionals, in addition to learning the skills he needs to become a financial aid director.
“I’m learning how to plan out where I want to be and how I want to get there,” he said.
In addition to participating in sessions, attendees also heard from NASFAA President Justin Draeger and Megan McClean Coval, NASFAA’s vice president of policy and federal relations, as they recapped the host of changes happening in higher education— specifically the steps taken in the House and Senate to draft a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Trump administration's fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget proposal.
While the House bill is waiting to make it to the floor for a vote after being passed out of committee in December and the Senate has yet to release its bill, members on both sides of the aisle have made it clear that they are committed to establishing rules related to institutional accountability in some form, Draeger explained.
“Accountability will be there— our goal here is to shape that conversation,” Draeger said.
Coval emphasized that the budget process—not the traditional reauthorization process—has in recent years had a big impact on financial aid policy.
“If you look back over the past seven, eight years, almost all of the changes federal student aid programs have been through have gone through the budget process,” Coval said. “Most of the things that the president put forth in his budget...are policy decisions.”
Coval also highlighted many of NASFAA’s resources for keeping up to date on higher education news such as the monthly “Capitol Recap” article in Today’s News and NASFAA’s “Off The Cuff” podcast. She also urged members to participate in NASFAA’s Fight for Financial Aid campaign to oppose cuts to programs, and Draeger emphasized that because this is a midterm election year, lawmakers will be especially receptive to hearing from their constituents in order to secure their seats in government.
“Your primary objective is to make contact,” Draeger told members. “We feel good when they are consulting with you.”
Be sure to check out our Facebook album throughout the week for photos from the conference and follow along on Twitter with #NASFAALeads18 to keep up with what members are talking about!
Publication Date: 2/27/2018