The intersection of technology, research, financial aid and student access in higher education

Negotiating on the Title IV Loans Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

Added on by Scott Cline.

I am very honored to write that I have been selected to be the primary non-federal negotiator representing financial aid administrators for the Title IV Loans Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. California and WASFAA are well represented on the committee. The first meeting starts next week in Washington DC.

I will be sharing what I can through Twitter and the CASFAA newsletter. Hopefully, my first tweet will not be next to a pile of snow.

Now for the ask.

I really want to hear from people in the financial aid profession. What do you want to see negotiated in the loan programs? Send me an email scott (a) or a tweet with your thoughts and ideas.

FSA(TC) - It seems like just yesterday we were in Vegas

Added on by Scott Cline.

Like many financial aid professionals, I am making my yearly pilgrimage to the Federal Student Aid (Training) Conference. FSATC in the politically correct world, but for everyone else--FSA.

The conference starts tomorrow in Atlanta, GA and runs through Friday. If you want to follow along or meet up, find me on Twitter @scottcline.

There are also some other great financial aid professionals on twitter who will be there, including @MelissaHaberman, @sgallagherhe, @shanc_followill, and @dustinasmith.

This year, I am going to try to write a quick summary of the day and post it here. Let us see how well I keep that promise.

-SC, currently crossing over Kansas.

Helpful Habit for New (and Seasoned) Financial Aid Pros

Added on by Scott Cline.

The Department of Education has been publishing a number of the volumes for the 2014–15 Federal Student Aid Handbook on the IFAP website, including, this past week, campus-based programs, and calculating awards and packaging. The department usually gets out the application and the verification volume at least halfway through the main awarding season for traditional schools and the rest of the volumes trickle out throughout the summer.[1]

My habit I got into (by luck or most likely from some wise financial aid professional early in my career), is to re-read the handbook each year as it is published.[2]

There is so much information to keep in your head, working in financial aid, and I have found this yearly ritual of reviewing the handbook as it is published keeps it fresh in my mind that hopefully helps me carryout my day-to-day work.

Grab your iPad or laptop and pick a volume to get (re)aquiented with over the next few weeks. After you finish one, you can move on to another one. If you are a manager or supervisor, do it with your directs together.

  1. There have even been years when some volumes have not been published until mid-fall.  ↩

  2. Ok, sometimes I do skim some of the sections and some years it has been a month or two after they were published.  ↩

Tossing out the legal pad and sticky notes with Drafts for iOS

Added on by Scott Cline.

Things come at me from many different directions. It might be the phone call from the boss, a direct, a student or a parent. It might be while I am in my office, in a meeting or walking down the hall. It might also be an idea that I have while walking the dog in the evening, eating lunch or even at 2 AM.

Many people have written about the idea of "universal capture" devices. Many people use an always handy notebook and a compact pen where ever they go in order to write these ideas, thoughts and to-dos down. They then sort these ideas into the appropriate directions.

I have used a few different "universal capture" from a yellow legal pad to Field Notes Notebooks and a Fisher Space Pen to a sticky notes next to the phone. But thanks to some suggestions from much smarter people then me, I have been using for a while the iOS app Drafts.

Drafts in its basic form is a simple text app for both the iPhone and the iPad. Every time you open the app, it opens to a blank text field with the curser ready to go. Since my iPhone is nearly always with me and the app opens ready to take text, the barrier to entry is the same or less then a pen and pad.

The best part of Drafts is what it can do with the text after you have captured it. Drafts allow you to program certain actions to do with the text. Some of the basics is it can email the text, add the text to a file in either Dropbox or Evernote, or send it to another iOS app. Here is my action menu items.

Many of the things I capture end up being to-do items and I use OmniFocus to capture, track and do those items. Since I use OmniFocus on the Mac, iPhone and iPad and I sync all of these through the OmniGroup sync service, I also have a dedicated email address. When that email address receives the email, it adds it to my OmniFocus inbox. Next time I launch the application, the item is in the inbox and ready to go. This is what the setup looks like for me to email text directly to OmniFocus.

I also use Drafts for meeting notes. We have a standing 30 minute staff meeting each week and want to keep the notes from the meeting for later reference. I created one large (markdown) text file saved in Dropbox and I created an action in Drafts to pre-pend my latest meeting notes after I am done with the meeting to the (markdown) text file. Here is Drafts on the iPad with my meeting templete and action items.

If you are/were like me, I used to hand write notes from meetings and tasks that need to be completed. The problem was some of those meeting notes would never make it out of my yellow legal pad and sometimes those tasks would be lost for ever. Now, by using Drafts, I am able to quickly get this information in and sent in the correct direct for later action or reference. The most useful aspect of Drafts is that it allows me to get information out of my head and I no longer have to worry about remembering it.

Finally, here are some other great resources and reference:

Federic Vatechie on Mac Stories

David Sparks on MacSparky

Great Tips on Tweeting and Conferences

Added on by Scott Cline.

Brian Croxall over at the Chronicle’s ProfHacker blog wrote an article on tips for Tweeting at conferences. Since I have a love for TextExpander (both on Mac OS and iOS) he had a really good tip to speed up the process:[1]

Use text expansion. By this point, you’ll notice that I’ve told you several things should be in each tweet: a conference hashtag, a session hashtag, and a username for the person speaking. You can save yourself a lot of time in tweeting if you make use of text expansion. When a person starts speaking, I create a snippet that looks like this “.@stewartvarner: X #mla14 #s402” and assign it the keyword “twt”. Then, I can simply type twt in my Twitter client and the speaker and hashtags are created automatically.

  1. Also probably speeds up the process of annoying most of the people who follow me.  ↩