TASFAA Community Blog
October 2014 Webinar Titles and Descriptions
Perfecting Your Policies and Procedures Manual
Are you meeting administrative capability requirements? Are you ready for an audit or program review? Does your staff know the policies and procedures necessary to ensure proper compliance? Your Policies and Procedures Manual is the first thing ED will want to see. This session makes sure your office has well-defined policies and procedures are in place. A thorough manual can also serve as a step-by-step guide for staff members.
Specific topics include:
October 1 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Tasha McDaniel
Clock-hour Programs and R2T4
Return of Title IV (R2T4) doesn't have to be daunting. This session walks through a clock-hour example to help you understand what it is and when it applies so you can effectively counsel students and help them make informed decisions about withdrawing from school.
Specific topics covered include:
October 1 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Clock-hour Programs and R2T4
Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Linda Peckham
Making the Call: What to Say to Delinquent Borrowers
If calling delinquent borrowers is part of your default prevention strategy--or should be, this webinar is for you. Through the use of role playing, this session will help increase your comfort level, teach you how to handle common objections, and how to ask for a payment without coming off as pushy.
October 7 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Hannah Achtor
Reaping Results with a 12-Month Default Prevention Action Plan
Default prevention results can be achieved when a plan is developed and executed properly. Do you know how to create an actionable 12-month plan that reaps results? If you’re like many schools, developing a plan requires time and resources that may be limited. During this session we will show you how to put together a 12-month action plan that is manageable. We’ll walk through the plan month by month, demonstrating strategies that you can deploy to help you manage default rates and reap results.
Specific topics covered include:
October 8 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
October 23 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Michiale Schneider
Difficult Conversations: How to Manage Conflict While Providing Customer Service
Does your front line staff know how to deal with difficult situations in positive ways? This webinar will demonstrate proven techniques for diffusing conflict while providing great customer service. The financial aid process can be frustrating and emotionally challenging for both parents and students. This heightened anxiety can play itself out in the aid office when parents and students direct anger and frustration at counselors or front line staff. Your teams’ ability to diffuse a difficult conversation and create a problem-solving approach is crucial to your customer service effort.
Shannon Patterson, M.S., Instructor in Business Administration and Conflict Management at Argosy University.
Date: October 9 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Tasha McDaniel
FERPA, Social Media, and the Financial Aid Office: Communication and Compliance
Financial aid offices are using social media to communicate important financial aid information to students. Do you know how to balance FERPA protection with this public communication medium? As you build your social media communities and encourage students to follow you, your office also needs to ensure your strategy is FERPA compliant. This interactive session will provide specific guidance on what can and cannot be posted and how to respond to students who post private information on your page.
Specific topics covered Include:
· FERPA, friends, and followers – what are the issues?
· Defining educational records and legitimate educational interest in the social media space
· School posts vs. student posts – how and when does FERPA law apply?
October 9 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Linda Peckham and Liz Gross
The Student Loan View from the Credit Reporting Cycle
The choices borrowers make with their student loans-both positive and negative-are reflected on their credit reports. Do you know how to explain the credit reporting cycle to your students? This session will walk through the credit reporting cycle to demonstrate the effects of timely loan payments, as well as the impact of delinquency and default on long term credit history. Attend this session to learn ways for educating your students.
October 15 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
October 21 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Michiale Schneider
Your First Day as New Director: 5 Things You Need to Do to Ensure Success
Are you a new Financial Aid Director or aspire to be one? New aid directors face unique challenges in their first days on the job. This session will help you successfully transition to your new role.
October 16 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Linda Peckham; Janet Dodson, Associate Director, Tuition Exchange; and Past NASFAA Chair
Gail Holt, Dean of Financial Aid, Amherst College
Financial Aid for Beginners
Learn the basics of financial aid and gain an understanding of how different programs work and how financial need is determined. This session will review how students apply for financial aid and how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) fits into the application process to help you better respond to the needs of your students and help them see that a college education is possible.
October 23 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
October 30 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Linda Peckham and Keyimani Alford
Understanding the Verification Process
Baffled by the complexities of verification? This session will give you the information you need to simplify the verification process into three easy steps. We’ll also define some common issues found during the review process and how you can resolve them.
October 28 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Applying Federal Methodology
How is a student’s financial need determined? Learn how Federal Methodology is used to calculate a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC)undefinedand be able to calculate an EFC. You’ll be better prepared when making financial aid awards.
October 22 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
October 29 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Database Matches: Resolving Common Comment Codes
This session reviews how the database matches following FAFSA completion impact student aid eligibility and what you can do to help resolve any issues that arise. Leave feeling confident about resolving C-codes and conflicting information.
Date: October 29 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Understanding the FAFSA: It All Starts Here
Get a comprehensive overview of the FAFSA. This session steps you through the FAFSA line by line. We’ll help you feel comfortable assisting your students so they can correctly complete this crucial first step to receiving federal financial aid.
October 21 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
October 28 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Loans 101: Understanding the Basics
Learn the basic details of the different federal loan programs so you can better understand, process, and encourage your students to make good borrowing decisions.
October 30 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
August 2014 Webinar Titles and Descriptions
Counseling Borrowers about the New 150% Direct Loan Limit
New regulations may impact your students’ eligibility for funding. Do you know how to help borrowers understand the implications of the 150% Limit for Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans? Attend this session to review new regulations which limit Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility to 150% of a student's academic program length. Join us as we discuss ways to educate your borrowers.
August 5th @ 3 PM, Eastern time
August 21st @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Jamie Malone
FERPA: Interpreting the Intricacies
Protecting student privacy is paramount. Understand what needs to be included in your school’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy and gain a working knowledge of how to ensure FERPA privacy requirements are met in real-world scenarios. Consider this course not just an introduction to the basics of FERPA, but also an in-depth guide to understanding the rights of students and their parents regarding student education records. The materials presented have been vetted by our privacy specialists to ensure that you get the most accurate and comprehensive assistance available.
August 6th @ 12 PM, Eastern time
August 20th @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Student Employment: A Whole Different Class
Student employment provides a valuable resource to both the campus and the student. Does your office know how to maximize this resource? Attend this webinar to learn about the benefits you can reap from your student employment office, regulations for using Federal Work Study, and techniques for improving the overall student experience.
August 5th @ 12 PM, Eastern time
August 19th @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Consumer Information Requirements
Increased attention being paid to transparency in higher education has resulted in recent changes to consumer information regulations. This session will help you maintain compliance with a review of existing and new consumer information requirements.
August 6th @ 3 PM, Eastern time
August 28th @ 12 PM, Eastern time
By Katy Hopkins, Communications Staff
Social media platforms allow financial aid administrators to reach students where they already are. Whether your office is ready to launch a comprehensive engagement strategy or just wants to survey the landscape, there are ways to use social media as a boon to your office.
Here are three tips gleaned in part from a 2014 NASFAA National Conference presentation, “Assessing, Developing, and Maintaining a Social Media Presence,” created by Justin Chase Brown, associate director of financial aid at the University of Missouri, Lenna Sliney, La Quinta Fellow with Blue Star Families, and Melissa Niksic, marketing communications specialist at Loyola University, Chicago.
1. Active Listening: Any user can tune in to social media to survey the current and prospective student landscape. On Twitter, for instance, you can easily search by keyword (your institution and financial aid, for example) to see what users are saying.
It can be a great way to gauge students’ perceptions of the financial aid process, Brown said during his conference presentation. It’s also a way to use social media without committing much time, effort, or resources, Sliney said.
2. Information Sharing: If your office is ready for the commitment, social media platforms also offer quick ways to connect bulks of students with information. Just one post on Facebook or Twitter has the potential to reach many students.
Financial aid offices can coordinate social media posts with the academic year, sharing FAFSA information in January and again before filing deadlines, for instance.
Aid professionals can maximize the reach of informative posts by coordinating online events, such as a Twitter chat or Google Plus Hangout. Publicize a designated time period (say, an hour) for social media users to tune in for updates and information.
Offices should set a clear strategy before beginning to communicate via social media, the conference presenters said. No communication at all is better than a half-hearted, public effort that is soon abandoned.
3. Strategic Engagement: Social media platforms offer multiple ways to engage with other users – often without even typing a word. On Facebook, it’s a like or share of a post, while Twitter users can favorite or retweet. Instagram users can approve of photos, and Pinterest aficionados can pin posts. Offices with active accounts should set a strategy for what to engage with, even peripherally.
For the well-prepared office, social media channels like Twitter and Facebook also offer an avenue to respond to comments or concerns. A student who tweets his or her frustration with their budget, for example, might benefit from a link to the university’s personal finance information sessions.
Be ready to take conversations offline, however, when the situation demands it. Personal information, for instance, should never be discussed via social media.
First, several of TASFAA’s own attended the SASFAA transition meeting in St. Pete Beach, Fl. Tennessee will have several members on our southern regional association board this year. TSAC’s Terri Parchment will be serving as SASFAA Budget and Finance Chair, Marian Dill from Lee University is the new SASFAA Vice President and I will be taking over for Jeff Gerkin as the state president representative from Tennessee.
Next, TASFAA was proud to send our FIRST Clyde Walker Professional Development Scholarship recipient to the SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshop, Destini Burns from Tennessee State University. Destini reported that it was a great experience and “a blast”! David Haggard from Bryan College also represented Tennessee as one of the NAOW presenters.
Most recently, Tennessee played host to our national conference. Brent Tener from Vanderbilt served as the conference chair for NASFAA and helped provide a wonderful training opportunity for approximately 2500 financial aid officers from across the United States. Vandy’s Karen Hauser served as local arrangements chair, with TASFAA members Charles Harper (Belmont), Melissa Smith (Vanderbilt), Tanaka Vercher (TSU), Cara Suhr (TCAT Nashville) and me (UT Knoxville) serving on the committee. Many, many, more TASFAA members stepped up as volunteers at registration, the information booth, packet stuffing and the hospitality suite. Thank you to everyone who helped to show the NASFAA folks why we are known as the volunteer state!!
Last but not least, we would like to congratulate Deidra Cummings from Lipscomb University for serving on the NASFAA Graduate & Professional Issues Caucus.
We will soon have our first official 2014-2015 TASFAA Executive Board Meeting. I look forward to a great year as President and I welcome your comments and suggestions. Many of you have completed the volunteer form online and have been contacted by one of our committees. If you are interested in serving, it’s not too late! Volunteer online or contact any member of the TASFAA board. As you will hear me say many times throughout this year:
TASFAA, We Are Family!!
TASFAA President 2014-2015
Members of the 2014-15 TASFAA Board:
Elected Officers/Executive Board
President Celena Tulloss, University of Tennessee
President Elect Dick Smelser, Pellissippi State Community College
Past President Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee
Treasurer Lester McKenzie, Tennessee Tech University
Secretary Melissa Smith, Vanderbilt University
4 Yr Public Tanaka Vercher, Tennessee State University
4 Yr Private Tiffany Summers, Lipscomb University
2 Yr Public Joe Myers, Motlow State Community College
Proprietary Debra Stratman, Miller Motte Technical College
TCAT Kara Vanhoy, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Crossville
At Large Karen Hauser, Vanderbilt University
Association Governance Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee
Awards Cherry Johnson, Columbia State Community College
Budget/Finance Cara Suhr, Tennessee Technology Center – Nashville
Conference/Fin Aid Awareness Leah Louallen, TSAC
Diversity Willie Thomas, Chattanooga State Community College
Electronic Services Wes Armstrong, Northeast State Community College
Mentorship Charles Harper, Belmont University
Governmental Relations Ron Gambill, Edsouth
Historical Jan Lassiter, Edsouth
Long Range Strategic Plan Brent Tener, Vanderbilt University
Membership Terri Parchment, TSAC
Newsletter/Public Relations Bryan Erslan, Lincoln Memorial University
Nominations Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee (as Past President)
Site Selection Sonja McMullen, Sallie Mae
Sponsorship Development Sandra Rockett, Dyersburg State Community College
State Programs Liaison Tim Phelps, TSAC
TASFAA Advisory Cmte TSAC Jeff Gerkin, University of Tennessee (as Past President)
Training Larry Rector, Johnson University
July 2014 Webinar Titles and Descriptions
July 9 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
July 23 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Linda Peckham
July 8 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
July 16 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Michiale Schneider
July 9 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
July 10 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Loans I: Understanding the Basics
Presenters: Tasha McDaniel and Keyimani Alford
July 10 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
July 16 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Loans II: Helping Students Succeed in Repayment
Gain a deeper understanding of preparing students for repayment. This session will cover borrower options for repayment and the consequences of default. You’ll come away with a thorough knowledge of loan basics that will help you educate your students on the impact of borrowing student loans.
July 22 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
July 30 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Linda Peckham
July 23 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Great Lakes Default Management Tools: Learn, Access, Implement
Staying in touch with borrowers who are struggling with repayment can help you minimize your cohort default rate. Great Lakes tools can help you with these important outreach efforts. This session will show you how to use our Borrowers at Risk report and Delinquency Letter Tool to connect with former students and steer them away from default. You’ll also learn how schools have successfully tackled specific default challenges using our tools.
July 24 @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Don’t Fear the FISAP
Are you a new director faced with completing your first FISAP this fall? Make the FISAP process more manageable by starting with a plan for collecting the data from your enterprise system.
New aid directors faced with completing the FISAP (Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate) for the first time are often overwhelmed by the scope of the report. But the FISAP process can be made easier and less daunting if you start early with a plan for how and where to collect the necessary data. This webinar will provide a step by step review of the FISAP sections, guidance on how to collect data in advance, and advice for how to minimize submission errors.
Guest Presenter - Heather McDonnell, Associate Dean of Financial Aid and Admission, Sarah Lawrence College
Heather McDonnell has over 30 years of experience in financial aid administration at both public and private institutions. She is an expert on federal processing issues and need analysis and an experienced financial aid trainer for NYSFAA, the College Board and EASFAA.
Specific topics to be covered include:
Presenters: Linda Peckham and Heather McDonnell
July 29 @ 12 PM, Eastern time
June 2014 Webinar SmartSessions
Crafting a Social Media Strategy for Your Financial Aid Office
Your students are regularly using social media to communicate. Do you know how to use social media effectively in the financial aid office? Many financial aid offices have been slower to build a social media presence due to concerns about student privacy or resources. Aid offices that have successfully deployed social media platforms have reported vast improvement in their two-way communications with students. This webinar will review the steps needed to plan and build a social media presence for your aid office on Facebook or Twitter and explore specific strategies for improving two-way communications with students.
June 3rd @ 12 PM, Eastern time
Crafting a Social Media Strategy for Your Financial Aid Office
June 12th @ 3 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Liz Gross and Linda Peckham
Financial Literacy: What You Need to Know to Educate Your Students
Financial education helps student’s make wise decisions about money and credit. You can create and tailor your own financial literacy programs by mastering basic concepts. This train-the-trainer session will give you all of the essentials you need to provide financial education to your students. You’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and create your own presentation to educate your students so that they make wise financial choices both during school and after graduation.
June 12th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
June 18th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
Life after Default
The consequences of loan default can be devastating to your borrowers. Attend this session to learn how loan default can affect the student’s credit profile and what you can do to help them. Borrowers who default on student loans not only damage their credit, but face having their tax refund and other benefits withheld, and the possibility of wage garnishment and legal action. These penalties can last for years, making it difficult for them to get a loan to buy a car or home, rent apartments and in some instances, secure employment. However, once a borrower has defaulted, they haven’t completely run out of options. This session will share what happens when borrowers default and explore the options available to them afterwards.
June 10th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
June 18th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
Doing More with Less: Finding Balance
If your budget was cut, would you know how to find other resources to maintain service to students? Attend this mini-session to learn how to cope with budget cuts by looking elsewhere for resources. During these rough economic times it’s common to be asked to cut a certain percentage of your budget. What comes to mind when you’re told to “do more with less”? We’ll provide several suggestions for finding untapped resources and invite you to share success stories and tips for budget-stretching ideas at your institution.
June 25th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Michiale Schneider and Keyimani Alford
Good is Good, but Why Be Average? Tips for Improving Customer Service
June 17th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
June 26th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
Citizenship Status and Title IV Aid: Confirming Eligibility and Ensuring Compliance
Citizenship status confirmation can be time consuming and confusing. Do you know how to evaluate the various ISIR comment codes and confirm eligibility by obtaining the correct documentation?
This session will provide guidance on how to understand the various ISIR citizenship comment codes, clarify which citizenship status categories can result in Title IV aid eligibility, and show you how to obtain appropriate documentation to ensure compliance before awarding and disbursing aid.
June 17th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
June 24th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
How to Prepare for an Audit or Program Review
Do you feel stressed when it’s time for your annual A133 audit? Would being selected for a program review cause you anxiety? This session will explain what you can do to be well-prepared and proactive, and limit your liability. You’ll leave this session with a more organized approach and a thorough understanding of audits and program reviews.
June 11th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
June 25th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
Verification: Four Simple Steps to Completion
Get the right dollars to the right students, on time. We’ll show you the easiest steps to completing verification based on recent policy changes and review common issues that arise.
June 11th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
June 24th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
Satisfactory Academic Progress: Moving Students in the Right Direction
To be eligible for FSA funds, a student must make satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and schools must have a reasonable policy for monitoring that progress. Learn the basics of the SAP policy and how it affects you. This session will review the requirements so you can respond to your students’ needs and move them toward successfully completing the program for which they are receiving aid.
June 5th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
June 26th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Keyimani Alford and Tasha McDaniel
June 4th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
NSLDS undefined I Made It In, Now What?
NSLDS provides comprehensive data that you can use to verify financial aid history and counsel borrowers about repayment strategies. Do you know how to find the information quickly and efficiently? If you are not familiar with its functionality you might miss important tools and overlook information. This session will show you the NSLDS functionality and highlight the core components of this powerful database.
June 10th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
June 19th@ 3 PM, Eastern time
Assessing your Leadership Style: Know Thyself and Plan Accordingly
Aid directors are often hired for their Title IV expertise but need to quickly develop their natural leadership skills. Do you know what your leadership style is and how to use it to your advantage?
This webinar will help you uncover your style preferences and to work with others in ways that achieve success for the office. Using the Myers - Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, participants will develop a better understanding of their leadership strengths - as well as areas in need of improvement - and use that knowledge to improve communication, build teams, and manage conflict. Registrants for this webinar will be offered the opportunity to complete an MBTI assessment prior to the event.
June 19th@ 12 PM, Eastern time
Presenters: Linda Peckham
Janet Dodson – Associate Director, Tuition Exchange, Past NASFAA Chair, and Certified MBTI Counselor
Sara Vancil – Assistant Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, The University of Kansas, and Certified MBTI Counselor
9 Tips to Help Protect Your Students from Identity Theft
Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
More than 10 million people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds fall victim to some type of identity theft each year. The majority of identity theft incidents (85 percent) involve fraudulent use of existing credit card or bank account information. Fraudulent use of personal information to open a new account, however, can cause additional stress by creating financial, credit, and relationship issues.
With existing accounts, financial institutions often discover the fraud and inform victims of the activity. But unauthorized accounts opened fraudulently are frequently not discovered until the victim is contacted by the creditor or receives notice of unpaid invoices.
Anyone with a Social Security number may be targeted for identity theft. Credit reports should not exist for young children. If you find one does, this is a red flag that may indicate fraudulent activity. The Federal Trade Commission recommends checking your child's credit report beginning around age 16, and every six to 12 months until they turn 18.
Even if victims of identity theft don’t experience financial loss from these crimes, fraudulent information and accounts that remain on their credit report may impact interest rates or financial opportunities they may qualify for, costing victims for years to come.
Teaching your students simple, common-sense steps they can take to protect their personal information, assets, and credit score satisfies an essential part of their financial education, and helps to safeguard their financial future. Direct your students to Knowledge Center on mygreatlakes.org, or to the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information for additional resources about Identity Theft.
9 Tips to Help You Avoid Identity Theft
Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at email@example.com. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at schools.mygreatlakes.org.
Analyzing Your Student Loan Data
Sign up today! TSAC's Default Aversion Field Reps will be presenting a “hands-on” training session for analyzing federal student loan data from NSLDS School Portfolio Reports. The session will be held Wednesday, May 21st from 10:00am to 3:00pm, at TSAC in Nashville. Lunch will be provided.
Space is limited so contact Jill Vickers at Jill.Vickers@tn.gov to reserve your place. Participating schools are asked to bring their own laptop, on which a copy of their School Portfolio Report has been downloaded from EDconnect.
Return of Title IV (R2T4): It's as Easy as Pi
Submitted by Dave Bowman, Regional Marketing Director
R2T4 and the mathematical constant pi have something in common. Each of them is a simple concept that can be difficult to fully comprehend. For that reason, we're happy to give you a hand by simplifying R2T4, and pointing you toward other helpful resources. (You'll want to see a math professor for help with understanding pi.)
The logic for Return of Title IV (R2T4) is straightforward: if a student ceases attendance prior to the planned ending date, he or she may not be eligible for the full amount of Title IV funds they were scheduled to receive. Where it gets more complicated is figuring out the definitions and calculations for the return of funds, depending on whether the academic program is term-based, with or without modules, or non-term clock or credit hour.
Modular programs, which offer students flexibility to enter and withdraw from school during a defined period of enrollment, create unique challenges. R2T4 calculation errors, among the more common audit and program review findings, can be costly and inconvenient. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) suggests that performing these calculations accurately is easier if you:
Timely and accurate R2T4 calculations may allow student loan customers who don't return to school within the grace period to experience the full advantage of their grace period, which can help lower your school's default rates. Regardless, to allow students to make informed decisions about withdrawing from all classes, you'll want to clearly communicate the following in your consumer information:
There are many resources available to help with making accurate R2T4 calculations. Session 21 from the 2013 Federal Student Aid conference provides helpful definitions, clarification, case studies, and other resources, such as information about signing up for ED's free R2T4 on the Web (https://fsawebenroll.ed.gov/PMEnroll/index.jsp). You may also find it helpful to participate in free trainings, such as a SmartSessions™ webinar Great Lakes offers on Credit-based Programs and R2T4, or others that are available.
While closing the door on winter should be a relief, spring brings one of the busiest seasons to the financial aid office. If you're feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, check out 13 tips we've compiled to help you streamline your work, control your environment, and take care of yourself to optimize your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
1) Minimize distractions so that you can complete important projects. Forward your phone to voice mail for a brief amount of time, and turn off email and mobile device notifications to minimize interruptions and create concentrated, productive time. Checking the most difficult or important tasks off your list gives you a huge mental boost, leaving you in a better mindset to handle all the other things that crop up.
2) Don't let email clutter slow you down. Create folders to organize your emails as you get them, and use the search feature in Outlook to find them more quickly. If you're working in an Outlook environment and have colleagues who overuse the "reply to all" option, look into the NoReplyAll Outlook add-in to help your office reduce email clutter.
3) Leverage existing channels to help your students help themselves. Record a walk-through training of your online counseling tool, for example, or provide a quick tutorial at orientation, and then use your office's social media channels to let students know how it may be accessed to save you - and them - time.
4) Know when to go old school. If you've gone back and forth three times on something via email, pick up the phone instead, and get it sorted out in a real conversation. Better yet, get up from your desk and visit a colleague if they’re not too far away.
5) Feel too busy to take lunch? Low blood sugar does not help concentration, mood, or energy, making it a bad idea all-around to skip lunch. If you must, keep working during the quiet time when others are at lunch, but be sure to take a lunch break when they return. And, if you're having a particularly rough morning, a short time away with a colleague for lunch may help your perspective or even identify a way to ease the stress.
6) Investing time to learn to use your tools can have a huge, repeat payoff in time saved later. For example, consider using a Microsoft Word merge feature that lets you send a document to multiple people, allows them to make changes, and then merges everything back into one document, letting you select the changes you want to keep.
7) Take a walk outside or do some simple exercises at your desk, like breathing or stretching, to get the blood flowing. It will give you a fresh outlook, renewed energy, and release some of the tension that may have built up in your body while you worked. A few minutes invested can make you immensely more productive.
8) Automate repeatable tasks and simplify projects by using shortcuts, bookmarks, and speed-dial for your most frequently used resources. Create templates for your most commonly used documents. Record work processes on paper so they can be shared easily with others who may be able to help with them. Look for apps that reduce your workload. Financial Aid Director Scott Cline, for example, has been able to toss out the legal pad and sticky notes with an app called Drafts for iOS.
9) Not everything can be handled electronically in the aid office. Set up a left-to-right workflow for paperwork on your desk. It comes in on the left, is processed in the middle, and goes out on the right.
10) Take a tip from one of your colleagues, who shared this suggestion in our Listening Sessions. Set up an account with SignUp Genius and share the link with students who need to make an appointment with you. With students scheduling their own appointments, you'll save timeundefinedand with automatic reminders, students are more likely to keep the appointment they set.
11) Laughing and smiling release chemicals in your body that improve mood and energy. If you've ever laughed in the most stressful of situations, you may remember how good it felt. Looking for and acknowledging the humor in any stressful situation with a laugh or a smile, even to yourself, helps you keep things in perspectiveundefinedand keep going.
12) Pick up other tips through free training. Consider signing up for Great Lakes' May SmartSessions™ webinar, Eating the Frog First and Other Key Principles of Time Management, or find other, similar free trainings that may provide relief for you and your stressed colleagues.
13) At the end of the day, take a few minutes to clear the electronic and paper clutter, so that tomorrow you can avoid the aftermath of today. A fresh start offers the promise of a better day.
Dave Bowman is a Regional Marketing Director with Great Lakes, serving schools in Tennessee and Kentucky. You can reach Dave at (888) 685-1604, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information about Great Lakes can be found online at https://schools.mygreatlakes.org/.
Contact Us: email@example.com