Chapter 7 - Indiana Student Financial Aid Association Today and Tomorrow

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Transition from Past to Present

Financial aid is a relatively young profession. It has grown and changed significantly during its infancy, and as the profession has emerged ISFAA has responded to meet the dynamic needs of institutions, financial aid administrators, parents, and students.

Before the inception of the federal aid programs, ISFAA served as a support group for the exchange of ideas and concerns facing college aid administrators primarily responsible for distributing institutional funds. With the federal and state commitment to financing higher education, the Association expanded its scope and purpose. It has found new purpose in its service to financial aid administrators. It has broadened the scope of its work with high school guidance counselors, college admissions counselors, parents, and students. In fact, the welfare of the students of the State of Indiana has become a principal concern in many of the activities of the Association.

In 1983, the ISFAA past presidents were asked to serve on a long-range planning committee. The committee's purpose was to review the Association's constitution, to evaluate the current needs of the profession, and the rebuild the structure of the Association to meet future needs. Nowhere else is the changing purpose of the Association more evident than in the objectives written by this group. They have acknowledged the impact of significant other organizations, agencies, and the public on the financial aid process. The purpose has been expanded from one of cooperation among financial aid administrators with respect to student financial aid procedures and practices to one, which embraces such areas as professionalism, legislative advocacy, and extensive outreach efforts. These purposes go significantly beyond those that served as a foundation for the Association at the time of its creation in 1935.

While cooperation is still a primary goal, ISFAA members devote many hours to committee work designed to achieve these expanded goals. Opportunities are provided for professional development and training. Members of the governmental relations committee work with state and federal agencies to promote effective student aid programs. Information on the financial aid programs is disseminated to students, parents, high school personnel, and other interested parties. Professionalism is encouraged through research, conferences, and the exchange of ideas and concerns.


What is the nature of ISFAA today? There are several functional areas that describe the Association.

ISFAA Is a Professional Association. ISFAA provides a structure within which financial aid professionals can learn about new policies, programs, and procedures through the many training functions that are sponsored by the organization. It has sought to build professionalism through research activities and the promotion of ethical financial aid practices. The structure of the Association provides for strong leadership and insures the participation of all members in the activities of the organization. The number and nature of the various committees has been changed and expanded to meet the current needs of the membership.

ISFAA is a Forum for the Exchange of Ideas. Members of ISFAA communicate with each other through the ISFAA newsletter, association meetings, and discussion groups. The organization provides a means by which members can formally and informally exchange ides on federal, state, and institutional policies and procedures. Regular meetings provide an opportunity for formal training.

ISFAA is a Vehicle for Expressing Concerns and Providing Input to Others. The Governmental Relations Committee has been very active in monitoring legislation and regulations, communicating potential changes to the membership, and serving as a collective voice for the membership in the proposals and encourages the expression of ideas and comments as a part of that process. For example, the 1983 winter meeting featured a reauthorization theme. Many topics relating to the federal aid programs were discussed in light on new legislation due in 1985. This committee has been successful in promoting cooperation not only among the schools in the state but among various governmental agencies and financial aid groups.

ISFAA is a Support Group. A great deal of frustration and ambiguity is inherent in the administration of financial aid programs. ISFAA plays an important role as a support group within which members can share problems and solutions. Meetings are organized not only for training and dissemination but also for social activities, which bring members together in an informal setting. These social exchanges provide an opportunity for members to discuss common problems and to gain a sense of moral support. They also provide a peer relationship so that a member can call for help on specific problems, which arise on a daily basis.

ISFAA is a Vehicle for Communication with Other Groups and the Public-At-Large. Since its early years ISFAA has worked with a variety of education, counseling, and social agencies to disseminate information about financial aid. The Indiana Association of College Admissions Counselors, the State Student Assistance Commission, the American Personnel and Guidance Association, and the Indiana Department of Public Instruction have long been working with ISFAA to maximize these dissemination efforts for parents, students, high school personnel, and the public at large.

In the last three years, ISFAA has renewed its cooperation with the Indiana ACAC to present several sessions on financial aid topics at their fall Admissions and Financial Aid Congress. These sessions have been well attended by high school and college counselors. A series of ten regional high school counselor workshops have been organized each year to train and update high school counselors on financial aid programs. These workshops teach over five hundred counselors per year. The Outreach Committee has also prepared materials to help financial aid administrators in presenting workshops in the high schools on the completion of the Financial Aid Form. The Vocational Rehabilitation Task Force has been working for a number of years to exchange rehabilitation benefits. Lastly, the newly created Media Committee has sponsored a Financial Aid Awareness Week during which time information is disseminated on the availability of financial aid and on the deadline date for application. This group has expanded its activities to include press releases, media kits, television appearances, public service announcements, and press coverage of the IACAC Congress.

Recent Association Activities

Over the last few years, several changes have taken place within the Association that merit special mention. An effort has been made to strengthen ISFAA's organizational structure and to incorporate these revisions into a new constitution (now called By-Laws). The number of standing committees has been reduced and each President has created the committees necessary to achieve the current year's goals. The Long-Range Planning Media, Membership, Sponsorships, and Governmental Relations Committees are examples of new committees designed to meet current needs.

The most notable change in the new By-Laws is the reduction in the number of elected at-large members of the Executive Committee. Previously, this governing body was made up of ten elected at-large members plus the President, President-Elect, and Past President. The Secretary and Treasurer were elected by the Executive Committee from the ten at-large members. Beginning with the 1985-86 year, the Executive Committee will consist of the President, President-Elect, Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, four elected delegates-at-large and four ex officio, non-voting Commission Directors. The Secretary and Treasurer will be elected by the entire membership to serve two-year rather than one-year terms. These two positions will be elected in alternating years.

All committees are appointed by the President and will report to one of the four Commission Directors who will also be presidential appointees serving two-year terms. The directors of the Internal Operations and Management and Professional Development and Training Commissions will be appointed in the odd years, and the directors of the Public Relations and Communication and Governmental Relations Commissions will be appointed in the even years. The Audit and Finance Committee and new Membership and Ethics and Nominations/Elections and Awards Committees will be the only standing committees and will report to the Internal Operations and Management Commission.

In addition to these committee changes, the nomination and election process has been formalized and voting will be held by mail ballot rather than at the spring meeting. Two new membership categories have been added to include affiliate membership for profit-making organization concerned with the support of the student aid programs and student affiliate membership for students of member institutions. Members under these categories may not vote or hold elective office. With the recent appointment of a membership chairman, the ISFAA membership now includes well over two hundred individuals who represent post-secondary institutions, lenders, vendors, and other agencies.

Other recent actions taken by the Executive Committee have has a significant impact on the Association. ISFAA is no a not-for-profit corporation and is seeking federal tax exemption status. Last year, state tax exemption status was granted, which exempts the Association from paying state income and sales tax. The publishing of the history has been a major project directed by the Executive Committee and each ISFAA President will prepare an annual report for future historical reference.

For the last two years, the Executive Committee has met in an informal setting to establish goals and an action plan for the year and to build a sense of commitment and teamwork. A Distinguished Service Award was created to recognize ISFAA members who have made significant contributions to the Association and to the financial aid profession. The Executive Committee also created a sponsorships committee that has raised several hundred dollars annually in newsletter and directory advertising revenue and conference booth fees. All of these activities and changes have contributed to the continued strength and growth of ISFAA as a professional organization.

ISFAA Tomorrow

1985 marks ISFAA's fiftieth anniversary, ISFAA members can be proud of the long-term service of the oldest state financial aid association in the country.

As a part of its fiftieth anniversary celebration, ISFAA has planned a series of events culminating in a one-day colloquium. The theme of the colloquium will be, "The Impact of Financial Aid on Higher Education." This provocative theme will look at the past as well as to look forward into the future. It is appropriate that ISFAA begins its next fifty years by projecting its role into the future of the higher education process. How can the professional aid administrator assure that financial aid's impact best serves the educational needs of all Americans?

Just as our Indiana Association has, in the past, met the challenges of declining enrollments, increasing costs, competitive bidding for students, and decisions between college access and choice, ISFAA will continue to meet these challenges. ISFAA will continue to provide leadership in the training of financial aid administrators as well as those others who cry out for this expertise. ISFAA will continue to provide advocacy for legislation to fund expertise. ISFAA will continue to provide advocacy for legislation to fund students who seek higher education. No group is better equipped to understand students who seek higher education. No group is better equipped to understand and evaluate the educational and administrative impact of legislative proposals and their affect on students. The mid-1980's, with the unbridled national deficit and budgetary consequences of that deficit, may give lobbying efforts their greatest challenge thus far.

Beyond all of this, ISFAA and its membership have resolved to encourage the concept of a professional association whose framework can adapt to new directions in education, new development in educational financing, and new opportunities in problem solving through technology.

The Indiana Student Financial Aid Association looks forward to its opportunity to shape the structure, which will assure the future college education for Indiana students.