Chapter 6 - ISFAA Activities Throughout the Years

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Any organization is what it achieves. Were ISFAA no more than a focal point for aid administrators to meet and exchange ides, it would be a viable and significant organization. ISFAA has been much more and its activities reflect the purpose, the dedication, and the initiative of its members.

The current constitution states ISFAA's purpose as "… to promote cooperation among colleges and universities … to promote activities which … disseminate information and advice on scholarship practices … encourage … activity which will extend … financial aid … identify students of scholarship caliber." This purpose has not changed in the fifty years of ISFAA's history. Although the number and scope of ISFAA's activities has grown since 1935, its primary ideas of cooperation between colleges, dissemination of all manner of information about financial aid, and increasing financial aid opportunities for college-bound students of Indiana has not changed.

The organization has through its ad hoc and standing committee structure, accepted responsibility for:

  1. Sharing information among members,
  2. Assisting those outside the organization in their understanding of financial aid,
  3. Maintaining liaison with other education, social, and commercial agencies which play a role in the delivery of financial aid to students,
  4. Providing training in the requisite skills of administering student financial aid,
  5. Conducting research to learn more about the profession and the way it operates,
  6. Advocating for legislation impacting student financial aid, and
  7. Maintaining a constitutionally-based organization cognizant of its past history and parliamentary responsibility.

Sharing Information Among Members

A variety of formal and informal activities have assisted ISFAA members in sharing important information about the profession.

Newsletter. Probably the most effective o the formal information activities has been the ISFAA Newsletter. Begun in 1977, the Newsletter was first discussed as early as 1973. In 1978, the publication was named ISFAA News and Views and became a quarterly publication. Included are federal updates, MASFAA reports, SSACI updated information, committee reports, as well as a listing of committee members, job openings, and announcements of new personnel. The publication often includes minutes of regular or executive meetings as well as any other "new that's fit to print."

ISFAA members have come to rely on this journal to provide information unique to Indiana and to keep them closely in touch with other members. Responsibility for the publication of the Newsletter is shared. The Publications Committee uses the News Flash to get hot news to members when it occurs between regular editions of News and Views.

Directory. In order for members to identify and contact fellow members a membership directory is printed each year. Begun in 1973, this directory has been expanded to include regular and associate members, SSACI staff, Department of Education staff, and CSS and ACT representatives. It shows members by institutional affiliation together with their titles, addresses, and telephone numbers. In recent years, since Guaranteed Student Loan Program lenders have been invited to participate in ISFAA activities, their names and identification are also printed in the Directory. The cost of publishing the Directory has on occasion been underwritten by a service agency cooperating with ISFAA.

Critical Information Dissemination System (CIDS). A number of years ago it was realized that while written forms of information dissemination worked well in most cases, there were times when written communication was too slow and quicker response was needed. A formalized telephone network was suggested and, in 1972, the ISFAA Hotline was developed. Information which originated with ISFAA's delegate to the National Council was passed on by means of a "telephone tree." This procedure was revised in 1981 and renamed the Critical Information Dissemination System. Similar to systems in other states, calls now originate with the President and are passed along to the President-Elect, members of the Executive Committee, and branched out to members according to a pre-defined system. This telephone tree is sometimes used by SSACI or the U.S. Department of Education to disperse information quickly.

Meetings. With all of these formal activities of the Association, the two meetings held each year and the opportunity they afford to communicate with others are still the most effective means of sharing information.

Assisting Those Outside the Organization to Understand Financial Aid

From their early years, it was obvious to members of the Association that they carried the prime responsibility, awesome as it was, to inform all of their publics of the importance, the availability, and the methodology for getting information about student financial aid. After all, they were the ones who controlled the awards, in large part, and they were the ones best able to direct and counsel students who needed help. In forming a cooperative effort in 1935 the four state institutions recognized this responsibility. Activities of ISFAA through the years in this regard were paramount. Other professional organizations and SSACI, after its origin, also believed they had this responsibility. But ISFAA's assumed role in 1935 to test and identify scholars carried with it a role to inform others of scholarship application procedures.

Financial Aid Handbook. Records are not clear on exactly when the first Indiana Admissions and Aid Handbook was published. In the early to mid-1950s, the Committee on High School-College Cooperation (COHSCC) was publishing a handbook for the use of high school counselors which included definitive information on the availability of financial aid at its member colleges. In 1957, Josephine Ferguson chaired the committee which edited the Handbook for the COHSCC. The Handbook that year contained information on admissions requirements, a brief description of each Indiana college, and a statement of financial aid opportunities.

A publication of this type was handled in a variety of ways in future years. It was published sometimes by admissions groups and sometimes by financial aid groups. In 1966, when the SSACI was young, that agency assumed major responsibility for the publication which included information on SSACI programs. In that year also, it was decided to put out the Handbook in looseleaf form so that it could be quickly and easily updates. Even with joint sponsorship of the Handbook, the cost and effort of updating the book was substantial. Most often this cost was borne by the member colleges. In 1973, the College Scholarship Service offered to assume much of the responsibility and cost of publishing the book. This was the primary reference document used by hundreds of high school counselors. It gave basic information about location, size, and purpose of Indiana institutions. It explained curriculum, entrance requirements, and degrees conferred. It detailed contacts, and most importantly to ISFAA, it explained exactly what aid was available, requirements for qualifying for aid, and application procedures. For the last decade, responsibility for the publication of this Handbook has been assumed by the IACAC with the cooperation and input of ISFAA members. Most often published every two years, this Handbook has been a tool of critical importance to high school counselors and through them to the citizens of Indiana.

The Admissions Congress. The annual Admissions and Financial Aid Congress has, in a similar manner, been a long-term activity in the state for which responsibility has been shared. The Indiana Association of College Admissions Counselors (IACAC), the state Department of Public Instruction, the SSACI, and ISFAA are, of course, conceptually responsible for such a state-wide annual activity and have rotated in their leadership of this annual fall conclave. The coming together of all high school admissions counselors with college admissions and financial aid counselors is now an Indiana tradition. The first Congress was conducted in 1960 and the twenty-fourth Congress was jointly sponsored in September of 1984. In the mid-1960s, this Congress was attended by as many as eight hundred officials, attracted a United State Senator as well as the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction and other prominent educators. Although sponsorship has fluctuated, the emphasis of the Congress has varied and the attendance has not been consistent. The Admissions and Financial Aid Congress is one of the most important vehicles through which ISFAA disseminates its information to those outside its membership.

Parent, Counselor, and Student Workshops. In the later 1960s, ISFAA assumed sponsorship of parent workshops to provide information on student aid. Information on state, federal, and institutional aid was not being disseminated to all parents. There was much concern that students were being denied educational opportunities because of the erroneous perception of parents that sufficient aid was not available. In keeping with the talent search programs, ISFAA believed that it was necessary to get this information to parents of students in the early, as well as the last, years of high school so that academic planning could parallel financial planning for their children. It was in this spirit that agreement was reached on the statewide sponsorship of parent workshops. A critical subject included was an understanding of need analysis principles. The workshops, which were similar in agenda, were the responsibility of higher education institutions all over the state, with one or more colleges accepting responsibility for several of the state's counties. In 1968, 5,160 parents attended forty-two workshops; in 1969, 7,956 attended sixty-three workshops; and in 1970, 7,597 attended eighty-two such sessions. By 1979, twenty-two colleges participated in the sponsorship of workshops at eighty-seven high schools which were attended by 5,512 persons.

When the state was divided into areas in 1982 with ISFAA area coordinators, the ISFAA News and Views said:

The primary responsibility of the area coordinators is to arrange financial aid workshops for high school students and their parents when such are requested by high school guidance personnel. The area coordinator can conduct the workshop or obtain the services of a qualified financial aid officer to do so.69

Counselors Workshops. Although the Admissions Congress was attended by hundreds of counselors, other high school guidance counselor workshops have been conducted since 1965. Approximately ten workshops have been held each year with a total attendance of five to seven hundred counselors present. Often these workshops have been co-sponsored by or included presentations by representatives of the SSACI and the College Scholarship Service.

ISFAA has also taken a considerable interest in helping counselors maximize the usefulness of the financial aid nights which are held annually at many locations around them state. In 1984, the Outreach Committee prepared and distributed a brochure, "How to Plan and Conduct a Financial Aid Night." It gives counselors many suggestions as to the date, hour, location, and agenda for the meetings.

Other Efforts to Disseminate Information. In order to adequately publicize the parents workshops, as well as to generally pass on information on student aid, ISFAA has used television spot announcements, letters to high school principals ad guidance counselors, newspaper advertisements, radio announcements, radio interviews, and the like.

Financial Aid Awareness Week. Beginning in 1977, the ISFAA has annually requested the Governor of the State to declare a Financial Aid Awareness Week. Otis R. Bowen, the first Governor to make this declaration, recommended with ISFAA that:

  1. Financial aid officers run articles in campus newspapers and on campus radio stations,
  2. News articles be run around the state together with financial aid promotions on radio and TV, and
  3. Sings be posted on all college campuses.

Written Information Efforts. Publications have also helped spread the word. In 1973, eight thousand copies of a brochure entitled, "Financing Higher Education" were distributed. In 1974, the State Scholarship Commission, the State Department of Public Instruction, the Indiana Association of College Admissions Counselors, and the ISFAA co-sponsored "Dollars and Sense." And, in 1981, fifty thousand copies of "Piecing Together the Money Puzzle" were distributed to Indiana high schools.

Liaison With Other Agencies Which Play a Role in Aid Delivery

We know that at least since the early 1960s ISFAA, either through individual members or as an organization as a whole, has provided assistance to state and federal legislative bodies. It has also promoted working relationships between the financial aid community and other agencies which play a role in the delivery of financial aid to students.

Legislative Committee. After years of informal activities to influence state and federal legislative bodies a formal Legislative Committee was formed in 1977. Its purpose was stated in the Constitution to:

  1. Provide information to membership and legislative bodies [state and federal],
  2. Provide membership with interpretation and clarification,
  3. Inform membership of how they can submit their input,
  4. Stay in close contact with legislators,
  5. Produce formal statements from individual members and/or organizations, and
  6. Avoid duplicating the efforts of MASFAA and NASFAA.70

Much has been done by this committee, as well as by individual members of ISFAA, to provide input on the needs of Indiana students. Position statements have been written on the efficacy of proposed legislation as well as on proposed rules for carrying out the legislation.

SSACI Advisory Committee. The SSACI Advisory Committee (renamed Governmental Affairs Committee in 1983), organized in 1975, has been one of the busiest groups in ISFAA's history. This committee, consisting of representatives from the private and public sectors of higher education, has worked diligently over the years to provide input and assistance which would serve to the advantage of high school students and post-secondary institutions of the state. Members have provided advice on legislative as procedural and policy decisions.71 Work has been done on the design and content of procedures manuals, on the appropriation process, and on the awarding policies and procedures. Advice has been given on the definition of satisfactory academic progress, self-help expectations, and on the establishment of a State Work-Study Program.72

Vocational Rehabilitation Committee. Funds to assist handicapped students to obtain training to equip them for employment have long been available to postsecondary students. These funds, available from the federal government and administered through a state agency, are often awarded to students eligible to receive institutional and state financial aid. In order to eliminate giving duplicate funds to vocational rehabilitation recipients, some agreement was needed. A formal Vocational Rehabilitation Committee was established by ISFAA to draw up and implement such an agreement. Now an ongoing committee of ISFAA, it was designed to formalize the intent of both the vocational rehabilitation and financial aid communities to exchange information and establish procedures for the joint support of handicapped students attending postsecondary institutions within the state. At the same time the U.S. Department of Education, wishing to avoid replication of its funds with vocational rehabilitation funds, was urging each state to arrive at such a working agreement with the Vocational Rehabilitation agency.

The committee, consisting of both financial aid officers and counselors from the Indian Rehabilitation Service, created the Cooperative Agreement Between Indiana Rehabilitation Service and ISFAA which is revised annually and signed by the president of ISFAA and the Indiana Rehabilitation Service.73 A joint publication, "Twenty Questions about Vocational Rehabilitation and Financial Aid" was published and distributed in 1980 as a result of the efforts of this committee.

Another activity of this committee was the series of workshops which were conducted throughout the state in 1984. Their purpose was to familiarize vocational rehabilitation counselors and financial aid counselors with the use of the "Financial Aid Communication Form" which they had designed and to facilitate the communication of specific information about students between financial aid administrators and vocational rehabilitation counselors.

Working with Bankers. Because of the complexity and periodic changes in the Guaranteed Student Loan and Parents Loan for Undergraduate Students programs, regional meeting have been held yearly. These meetings are co-sponsored by the SSACI, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Indiana Bankers Association. Individual ISFAA members have hosted these meetings and made local arrangements for the groups. The meetings provide updates and bring together those involved in the administration of the programs so as to share information, solve problems, and simply get acquainted.

Interassociation Leadership Workshops. Many Indiana organizations of Indiana affiliates of national organizations have recognized the importance of working together to spread information about student aid. The joint sponsorship of meetings is just one evidence of this desire to cooperate. In 1974, ISFAA was invited to participate in an Interassociation Leadership Workshop. ISFAA leaders jointed the Indiana ACAC, Indiana Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (IACRO), the Indiana Personnel Guidance Association (IPGA), and the State Department of Public Instruction. A similar meeting in 1977 was attended by representatives of IPGA, ISFAA, IACAC, the Indiana Private School Accrediting Commission, the Mid-America Equal Educational Opportunity Program, and the SSACI. The representatives resolved to establish better communications between associations, to share meeting and program announcements and newsletters, and to develop a formal structure for the Interassociation group.

Cooperation With the Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education. Since the opening of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education in the mid-1960s, ISFAA has worked closely with that office to support mutual concerns. Passage of the National Defense Education Act in 1958, the Higher Education Act of 1965, and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 made the administration of federal student aid central to the mission of the Regional Office. The U.S. Department has endeavored to be supportive of the efforts of ISFAA as well as similar efforts of the other five state associations of the region. Out of this close liaison has come the joint sponsorship of meetings and attendance of Department employees at most ISFAA meetings. ISFAA members are among those who have been honored by the Regional Office for their professional competence. ISFAA has honored Department employees for their service to ISFAA. ISFAA members during the last half of the 1960s and first part of the 1970s served as panelists to review applications for federal funds submitted by Indiana colleges. The annual training of aid officers to complete their applications, the FISAPP meetings, have been jointly sponsored by ISFAA and the Department. ISFAA has also worked with the Department in sponsoring or co-sponsoring Pell Grant Workshops and Computational and Professional Judgment Workshops. For several years ISFAA participated in the National Training Project which was a joint activity of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the U.S. Department of Education.

Providing Professional Training in Student Aid Skills

For at least half of its life span, ISFAA has dedicated much of its purposed to the professional development of all who administer student financial aid. It has helped train administrators, developed codes of professional ethics, considered the certification of aid officers, and generally sought many means of enriching the professional competence.

Because little is offered in the way of formal education in financial aid skills, ISFAA has incorporated such training in most of its activities. Meetings have been designed to train new aid officers, to assist in training proprietary school representatives, and to train clerical and other groups. In 1972, fifty-five persons registered for the clerical workshop, for example.

Prior to 1979, three meetings were held annually. In 1979, financial constraints convinced the organization to move to two meetings per year. Each of these two meetings lasts from two to three days and incorporates special training such as need analysis, clerical training, and specialized courses including stress management, office management, and the like.

In 1970, a consultant service was organized. This service divided the state into eight districts with one experienced aid administrator assigned to each district. New aid administrators can contact these consultants to get advice and training.

Ethics Committee. ISFAA's concern over ethical principles in the awarding of financial aid was one from which the organization took its impetus in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. When the first choice system was abandoned, and with it the rules for fair and ethical procedures, the organization in 1964 adopted a new ethical statement found in Appendix IV. By joining the College Scholarship Service, Indiana institutions agreed to uphold the CSS Statement of Principles and Practices. The CSS Statement closely resembles the ISFAA statement and the Midwest Compact. The Ethics Committee and Training Committee were combined into the Professional Development Committee in 1977. This group stated as its purpose to:

  1. Implement all training and professional development programs and activities,
  2. Be concerned with the maintenance of high ethical standards, and
  3. Maintain official liaison with similar MASFAA and NASFAA committees.

Other activities of the Ethics Committee have been the study of ethical practices involving the confidentiality of student records, and in 1981, an exhaustive study of the objectives and standards of scholarship search companies. In 1984, the committee again undertook a study of scholarship search services and their practices.

State Student Financial Aid Training Project. The State Student Financial Aid Training Project (SSFATP) was a federally funded program to provide training for a variety of officials within each state. Monies were awarded to each state for the purpose of researching the state's training needs, developing a curriculum and training materials, training faculty, and generally making possible and accelerated training opportunity in student aid. ISFAA participated actively in this program before funds were lost because Congress failed to appropriate adequate amounts for this program.


Research in any organization provides a foundation for learning more about what is happening so as to make changes in an appropriate manner. In 1972, ISFAA's first formal Research Committee was organized to:

  1. Collect financial aid data from Indiana colleges and universities,
  2. Interpret that data, and
  3. Distribute that data to ISFAA members.74

Research has ranged from the efforts to determine the "characteristics and attitudes of Indiana financial aid officers" to a survey of student budget components. The former of these studies may have resulted in the upgrading of the positions of ISFAA members. The latter provided valuable information for the deliberations of the Indiana General Assembly in setting of SSACI spending levels.

The Research Committee has at times considered the design of a large data base which could become the nucleus of a research center used by researchers in financial aid throughout the nation.

Since its creation, this committee has conducted surveys and distributed results to the membership. Topics covered in its "Characteristics and Attitudes" survey included questions about salaries of aid administrators, sizes of staff, numbers of students served, and members' views toward certification. The committee also collected information on scholarship search services so that financial aid administrators could better advise parents and high school guidance counselors regarding the activities and reliability of these "search" groups.

Advocacy for Legislation Impacting Student Financial Aid

A formal Legislative Committee of ISFAA was appointed in 1977 but this committee was not the first to advocate for Indiana colleges. As has been mentioned earlier, SAICU played a key role in promoting and enacting the State Scholarship Act of 1965. Its members, working closely with Senator Vance Hartke, testified for the Higher Education Act in that same year. But this formal committee in anticipating the wishes of Indiana lawmakers, and working closely with the State Student Assistance Commission, was crucial in the decisions made to modify SSACI programs in the late 1970s. In fact, activities of the chairman and members of the Legislative Committee took a large portion of their time during that period. As mentioned elsewhere, Donald Holec chaired the NASFAA Governmental Affairs Committee for several years and his work as well as that of Norman Beck and Edson Sample at all levels of legislative advocacy have kept open an exchange of ideas on legislation between ISFAA and appropriate government groups. The purpose of the Legislative committee is to advocate on both the national and state levels. It is fair to say that both the U.S. Congress and the Indiana General Assembly have felt its influence.

Constitution and History

It was in 1957 that the Association first decided to formalize its organization with a constitution. The first constitution was considered for two and one half years and went through many revisions.75 Since that time the constitution has been rewritten on many occasions until in the early 1980s a decision was made to adopt By-Laws to permit more immediate updating. The Constitution Committee is now a standing committee of ISFAA.

The impetus to write this history, to celebrate ISFAA's fifty years, and to gather records and memorabilia has resulted in the appointment of an ISFAA historian. Archives for the permanent storage of these materials are being established.

It has been impossible to enumerate all that ISFAA has accomplished in its first half-century. Just as the membership of ISFAA has multiplied many times since 1935, so have the activities of this dynamic organization. Interest in certain activities has risen and fallen depending on changing ideologies and changing leadership. Much has been done but much remains to be done. The first fifty years have been active ones. The second fifty years will bring new ways to accomplish ISFAA's purposes and a dedication to continue much that has been done so well for so long.