On July 19, the National Association of School Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) held its 2015 Conference in New Orleans. The conference program kicked off with the Keynote speaker Hill Harper, well known actor from CSI NY but also an author and philanthropist as founder of the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, dedicated to empowering under-served youth through mentorship, scholarship, and Grant programs.
A Federal Town Hall session was held by U.S. Department of Education officials Jeff Baker, Lynn Mahaffie, and Carney McCullough plus several NASFAA officials. They answered questions from the audience on topics of current interest to the community.
The Session on Gainful Employment was, understandably, very well attended. The focus of the presentation included information on changes from the original GE reporting requirements to the current ones and some typical errors schools are making in reporting data and how to avoid them.
Several sessions revolved around projects within NASFAA to Re-imagine and Redesign Student Financial aid; reducing administrative burden, and simplifying R2T4 and the FAFSA. Other sessions focused on very specific topics of importance to the financial aid office that can be applied to real life situations such as unaccompanied homeless youth, R2T4 for module programs, verification changes, professional judgment and, new additions to consumer information. In addition to the specific topics related to financial aid, sessions addressed such topics as helping students borrow responsibly, and working with undocumented students.
Day one ended with an honest-to-goodness New Orleans parade from the Hyatt Regency to the French Quarter. The parade included a Brass Jazz band, a Boy Scout band and about 3,000 financial aid administrators. They do really know how to have a good time.