Speaking Engagement Session Offerings

Here are the topics available for NASFAA Speaking engagements. Learn more about the speakers and request a speaker for your upcoming event.

Administrative Capability

This session looks at administrative capability requirements with discussion on:

  • Adequate Resources
  • Automation and Electronic Processes
  • Privacy and Security Safeguards
  • Conflicting Information
  • Consumer Information
  • Separation of Functions
  • Other Requirements
  • General Evidence of Administrative Capability

Speaker: Dana Kelly

Advancing the Profession—Getting to Know NASFAA's New Toolkit

Do you worry about your office's ability to meet compliance requirements and provide excellent service to your students? If so, you're not alone--80% of respondents to a 2022 NASFAA survey of 500 institutions indicated that they had concerns about their aid offices' ability to maintain "administrative capability" standards required to participate in the Federal Student Aid programs, and 56% expressed concerns about their ability to adequately serve students. The NASFAA Board of Directors discussed these findings and convened a task force to develop a toolkit that financial aid directors can use to ensure they have a seat at the institutional decision-making table. The resulting Advancing the Profession Toolkit is now available and focuses on effective communication recommendations for c-suite executives on campus; media training to "be a spokesperson" on campus; professional development pathways; tips and training on interviewing for professional advancement; using data to effectively advance the institution's goals; and relationship and coalition building. Join this session to familiarize yourself with these valuable tools to help advance the financial aid profession!

Speaker: Helen Faith

Advocacy and You

This session will touch on the main principles of successful advocacy strategies. An overview will be given of how NASFAA enacts those strategies at the federal level through relationships with congressional staffers, the Department of Education, and the presidential administration. In addition to highlighting useful NASFAA tools and resources, the session will cover tips and strategies on how to successfully advocate at the grassroots level, and outline how you can plan your own advocacy event.

Speaker Options: Rachel Gentry Rotunda or Karen McCarthy

Can You Afford ($) To Work in Financial Aid?

You love financial aid and the ability to positively impact the lives of the students you serve, but you wonder if you can afford to make a career out of it. Positioning yourself to earn more money in the long term is important, but often overlooked are ways you can be more effective with the money you're earning today. This session will help attendees identify how to get the most out of your money.

Note: This can be a regular concurrent session time block. It can work as a standalone, or in combination with the two other investment/retirement sessions. A minimum of 45 minutes is needed to conduct this session

Speaker: Brad Barnett

Care and Feeding of Yourself and Your Career

Where do you see yourself in one, three, five, even ten years? Do you know how to build your skills to prepare for your next steps? In this interactive session, engage with fellow audience members and NASFAA National Chair Helen Faith to learn about the career paths your colleagues have traveled, explore opportunities in financial aid that could best suit your strengths and interests, and discover the range of professional development and training tools and options that will help you develop your career in the directions you most want to grow.

Speaker: Helen Faith

Communicating Up: Ensuring the Voice of the Financial Aid Office is Heard in the President's Office 

Few understand the nuances, art, and science of financial aid quite like those in the aid office. But sometimes when we know a subject too well, that knowledge can stand in the way of effectively explaining it to others on campus, most especially institutional presidents. Join NASFAA President Justin Draeger as he discusses how aid administrators can more effectively "communicate up" about the needs of the financial aid office and the students they serve.

Speaker: Justin Draeger

Developing Your Personal Mission Statement

Have you really thought about what's most important to you in life? What do you value? What's your purpose? What do you hope to accomplish? And how do your day-to-day habits move you closer or further from these goals? This is larger than just looking through the lens of your work. Instead, this is about you as a person. Developing a personal mission statement can help keep you on track, and motivate you, towards having a more fulfilled and purposeful life.

Note: This works best as a 60 minute session, but a modified version can be done with a little less time during a concurrent session time block

Speaker: Brad Barnett

General Session: NASFAA Update, Including a Journey from Poverty…Helped By A Financial Aid Officer

Many of us experienced challenging situations when we were younger, and Brad is no different. How do you allow those experiences to shape you? Did you take anything from them to improve your life today, or are you stuck…repeating the problems of the past? Brad will share a bit about his story, including how a financial aid officer provided him the ability to get a college education that opened doors to a new life. Through the story, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your own experiences as you look towards securing the type of life you desire, and contemplate the impact you can have on others as a financial aid administrator. This culminates with learning more about the resources NASFAA provides to help you be the best financial aid officer you can be.

Note: This journey can be combined with the NASFAA update, as it leads nicely into what NASFAA is doing to help financial aid officers. As such, at least 45 minutes is needed for the update.

Speaker: Brad Barnett

How One School Estimated the Impact of the New FAFSA, and How You Can Too

The "go-live" date for significant changes to the Federal Methodology (FM) formula is rapidly approaching. On October 1, 2023, the new 2024-25 FAFSA will become available and the Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the expected family contribution (EFC). Have you begun thinking about the impact the SAI will have on your packaging strategies, budgets, and other need-based aid programs? If not, it's time. 

Note: This can be a regular concurrent session time block.

Speaker: Brad Barnett

Inside the Beltway Update

This NASFAA Federal Update will provide an overview of the latest happenings in Washington, including a high-level landscape of the current political climate in D.C. with a focus on federal financial aid policy and how it has impacted students and institutions in recent years. Overall trends in student aid will be discussed including recent legislative and regulatory activity, reauthorization proposals and predictions for how student aid funding will fare in future budget negotiations. Movement within the Department of Education concerning negotiated rulemaking and updates from Federal Student Aid (FSA) will also be discussed. The session will also provide an overview of NASFAA-led projects, services, and advocacy efforts.

Speaker Options: Justin Draeger, Rachel Gentry Rotunda, or Karen McCarthy

Leading through Change: Finding Opportunity in Chaos

In an ever-changing landscape of higher education enrollment management and financial aid, leading through change has never been more critical. This session will provide attendees with the understanding and tools necessary to navigate the tumultuous seas of change within their institutions. By examining the current landscape, leadership theories, and innovative strategies, this session aims to help enrollment management leaders identify and capitalize on opportunities that emerge from chaos.

Speaker: Justin Draeger


Get an update on association activities, professional development and training opportunities, and the volunteer and public policy work of the association. Learn how you can get involved.

Speaker Options: National Chairs, NASFAA Board Members  

Pensions, 403b's, IRA's, Roths…Explaining The Options and Why You Need to Get in the Game

We have our fair share of acronyms in financial aid, but we're not alone. When thinking about retirement you may have access to 403b's, 401a's, 401k's, 457's, or even IRA's. Then there are traditional versions and Roth versions, and in some instances you may even have access to a pension. This session will discuss the importance of investing for your own retirement, as well as how many of these various accounts work.

Note: This can be a regular concurrent session time block. It can work as a standalone, or in combination with the two other investment/retirement sessions.

Speaker: Brad Barnett

Professional Judgment Best Practices

Professional judgment (PJ) is sometimes viewed as one of the more challenging aspects of Title IV program administration. There are both explicit and implicit guidelines that must be followed in relation to other aspects of Title IV federal student aid administration. This session will explore guiding principles and best practices that can be applied on your campus.

Speaker: Dana Kelly, or another designated NASFAA TRA staff member dependent on timing

Recognizing and Addressing Bias in the Student Aid Experience: A Research-Practice Conversation

Financial aid administrators are committed to providing all students with the opportunity to improve their lives with education through access to an affordable education. We navigate through a sea of federal and state laws, regulations, and regulatory guidance to accomplish this important work, and we do so as fairly and equitably as we can. Drawing on financial aid research findings and NASFAA's Diversity Toolkit, this session will help uncover ways that bias exists in the financial aid system and processes, while providing opportunities to engage in discussion on how to identify and address these biases in our offices on campus.

Speaker: Helen Faith

Staying in Love with Financial Aid Even When It's Hard (And It's Usually Hard)

Financial aid isn't easy work—the past several years have proven incredibly challenging, and the trajectory of rapid change will accelerate in coming years as we implement FAFSA Simplification, support borrowers as they return to repayment after three years on pause, respond to future proposed Gainful Employment rules, and the list goes on. If you're overwhelmed and even discouraged, that's hardly surprising—so how can we keep our hearts in this work through it all? Join this session to reconnect with the reasons we became financial aid professionals, be reminded of the tremendous impact we have, and share strategies to manage the stress of constant change and continue to be re-inspired even in the most difficult moments.

Speaker: Helen Faith

Talk's Not Cheap: Improving Communication to Serve Students and Boost Efficiency

Does your team spend an inordinate amount of time answering the same questions over and over again? Are you convinced that nobody reads the emails and letters you send them? Well, as the old saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results—if what you're doing isn't working, it's time to try a different approach. Come to this session to learn about evidence-based practices that have transformed aid offices from coast to coast (well, from coast to Midwest) at both a community college and a public flagship. Pick up tips you can put to use at your school and learn about an innovative approach to centralize communications to maximize effectiveness and free up capacity to focus on high-priority needs.

Speaker: Helen Faith

The College Cost Transparency Initiative: Rebuilding Trust in Higher Education

In an era where higher education affordability is a critical issue, and public trust in the value of higher education is waning, the College Cost Transparency Initiative emerges as a vital endeavor to rebuild trust and understanding between students, educational institutions, and policymakers. This session delves into the complexities and nuances of a new initiative publicly launched in September 2023 and whether/how schools can join.

Speaker: Justin Draeger

The Federal Budget and Student Aid

Between fiscal years, sequestration, and continuing resolutions, the federal budget process can seem a bit overwhelming. This session will cover the nuts and bolts of the federal budget process with special attention given to how the process impacts funding of the federal student aid programs. In addition to highlighting the basics of the process, the session will also feature predictions for future funding!

Speaker Options: Justin Draeger, Rachel Gentry Rotunda, or Karen McCarthy

The Top Five Issues in Financial Aid: Navigating Today's Challenges (General Session)

This essential session will explore the most pressing challenges in financial aid, including workforce dynamics, student loan debt and forgiveness, the value of higher education, the ever-changing landscape of regulations and legislation, and the latest updates from inside the beltway.

Speaker: Justin Draeger

Top AskRegs Questions

Updated for 2023-24! NASFAA's AskRegs service fields thousands of questions from aid administrators each year. This session takes a look at the top questions submitted over the last year, as well as those rated as most useful by the NASFAA membership. Find out what your colleagues are asking and if your practices align with NASFAA responses.

Speaker: Dana Kelly or another designated NASFAA TRA staff member dependent on timing

Top FAFSA Simplification Questions

The biggest changes to the FAFSA in history will be implemented in the 2024-25 application cycle - are you ready? Explore the upcoming changes to the FAFSA, including direct data sharing with the IRS and a streamlined Federal Methodology, and learn more about the latest updates on implementation and NASFAA's Student Aid Index Modeling Tool.  Discover what questions your colleagues are asking as we all prepare for the 2024-25 award year.

Speaker Options: Dana Kelly, or Karen McCarthy

Using NASFAA Tools

Membership has its privileges! Remember this slogan from the '90s?  It is very applicable to the tools NASFAA offers its members. From compliance and policy insights to training and "Beltway" insights, make sure you are making the most of your benefits and staying on top of what's happening in the aid community.

Speaker Options: Justin Draeger, Dana Kelly, or National Chairs

Why Weaponize When You Can Disarm? Building Alliances for Compliance(s)

Do you find that the aid office is often the last to know about campus developments that have major impacts on us? Do you feel like the wet blanket at every academic innovation brainstorming shindig? Does your office struggle to get the resources needed to be successful? Hmmm, ever wonder why? Let's be honest—we've probably all been guilty of brandishing the FSA Handbook like a weapon, or going straight to "No" without passing start. Join this session to talk through these and other challenges we've experienced and discuss approaches to support greater success for our offices and ultimately for the students we serve.

Format: 60-minute breakout session; also available as a 90-minute workshop format with increased audience involvement.

Speaker: Helen Faith

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