Q&A With Gena Boling, FAAC®, Chair of the 2024 National Conference Program Task Force

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The NASFAA 2024 National Conference in Milwaukee is less than three weeks away, which means it is time to start reviewing this year's jam-packed agenda. Today’s News caught up with Gena Boling, FAAC®, chair of the 2024 National Conference Program Task Force, to discuss what in-person sessions attendees can expect and previewed some offerings available at July’s Virtual Conference. Gena Boling

As a reminder the upcoming NASFAA 2024 Virtual Conference only requires one person from your organization to register, once completed everyone on your NASFAA roster can then sign up for individual sessions

Gena highlighted several sessions she’s looking forward to, including a session at the NASFAA 2024 Virtual Conference where under-resourced schools will discuss how they implemented FAFSA simplification despite several challenges.

Read on to learn more about NASFAA’s 2024 National Conference and Virtual Conference

How does the National Conference Program Task Force shape the conference experience each year?

Each year the National Conference Program Task Force evaluates the top priorities that both our industry and our fellow colleagues are facing, and we work to build a relevant agenda. This year, our task force members represented the full spectrum of financial aid administrators from for-profit to community colleges, to large and small public and private institutions, to graduate and professional schools. We work to identify and encourage session submissions based on those areas of interest, and then we follow that with careful evaluation of all of the submitted sessions to identify the most well-rounded agenda to put forward.

What can attendees expect from the national conference, especially those who have never attended in the past?

Engagement. I hear from so many first time attendees who are surprised at how open and inviting the NASFAA conference is. As conference organizers, presenters, and attendees, we’re all excited to be amongst our peers. We share best practices, pose complex situations, brainstorm solutions, and generally support and encourage each other in all the important work we do.

What can attendees expect from the virtual conference? 

We have a great agenda for the virtual conference made up of sessions with tangible topics. Attendees will walk away, or log-off, with ideas and tools that they can start using right away. Our keynote speaker, Alisha De Lorenzo, will address a lot of the challenging personnel issues we have faced over the last few years. We also have sessions focused on internal controls, like compliance, aid offers and literacy, and we will also hear from schools who've weathered the FAFSA simplification storm with few resources. There will also be a focus on need analysis, credentialing, trivia, and networking. 

It's a really great option for folks who attended the national conference and want to receive new additional content, but perhaps more importantly, it is of great value for institutions without the resources to travel to Milwaukee.

What are you looking most forward to at the national conference and virtual conferences? Any particular sessions or speakers of interest?

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of our brilliant colleagues. It's such a wild time in higher education right now. We have some of the brightest minds out there who will be joining us to share tips and tricks of making our way through our work. I love all of the nuts and bolts sessions, but I get the most from hearing how other schools have implemented solutions. 

In terms of particular sessions or speakers of interest, I'm really interested in a particular session from the virtual conference, FAFSA Simplification – How Under-Resourced Schools Weathered the Storm. This is just going to be so applicable to so many schools. Even though I'm from a larger university now, I started my financial aid career in an office of three, working with about 1,200 students. You have to find ways to make it work with less and that leads to a lot of ingenuity. I'm really looking forward to hearing what those schools have to say. 

There are also a number of FAFSA simplification sessions at the NASFAA National Conference. They're focused on how a variety of schools have chosen to respond to FAFSA simplification requirements. I can't wait to hear what everyone's doing, hearing the decisions that they've made, how they’ve reached those decisions, and then learning more.

Why should NASFAA members attend the national conference?

It's the opportunity to get time with some of the greatest thought leaders in our field. Attending sessions is really only half of the story. The rest of the conference happens in the hallway between sessions, discussions at the lunch table, ideas and realizations that pop up as you try to win trivia, and often stay up late into the night. It's like a giant in-person brain dump. 

Why should NASFAA members attend the virtual conference? 

First, it's all new content. We're not repeating anything from the in-person conference. It's another opportunity to gather really useful information that you can take back to your teams and start implementing right away, or make plans for future implementation. Also, it’s really convenient to log in from your office. 

How do this year’s conferences differ from previous years?

This is such a critical year for financial aid administrators. We're navigating the most complicated situation we've seen, at least in my career, and probably beyond. Our content is geared at helping schools navigate those really serious challenges we're all currently facing. We're focusing on outcomes oriented materials and next steps. We've moved past trying to learn about the requirements and are focused on the reality of our situation at the moment. This conference offers just-in-time information for administrators who need support during our most challenging era to date.

The NASFAA 2024 National Conference in Milwaukee is quickly approaching, but it’s not too late to register! Be sure to use our resources to justify your attendance, and if you can’t join us in person, consider registering your office for the NASFAA Virtual Conference just two weeks later. 


Publication Date: 5/30/2024

Heather B | 5/30/2024 9:1:24 AM

Thanks for leading the charge, Gena! Looking forward to Milwaukee.

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