2023 WFAA Conference Sessions 

Top FAFSA Simplification Questions, Virtual General Session

Presenter: Vice President of Public Policy and Federal Relations at NASFAA Karen McCarthy

The biggest changes to the FAFSA in history will be implemented in the 2024-25 application cycle - are you ready? Explore the upcoming changes to the FAFSA, including direct data sharing with the IRS and a streamlined Federal Methodology, and learn more about the latest updates on implementation and NASFAA's Student Aid Index Modeling Tool.  Discover what questions your colleagues are asking as we all prepare for the 2024-25 award year.

Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) Updates- General Session

Presenter: Carla Idohl-Corwin, Washington Student Achievement Council

Join us as Carla Idohl-Corwin updates the Financial Aid Community with important updates that are on the horizon for the upcoming year.

Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA) Updates- General Session

Presenter: Amanda Cornelius, WASFAA President, Northern Arizona University

Join us as WASFAA President, Amanda Cornelius, updates the Financial Aid Community with WASFAA and how to become involved with the organization.

Leading from the Middle: What it Means and How to do it Well

Presenter: Amanda Cornelius, Northern Arizona University and 2023-2024 WASFAA President

Have you heard phrases like “managing up, leading from the middle, leading your boss” and wondered what they really mean? I’ve heard employees say, “I can’t tell my boss what to do – they’re my boss!” While that’s true in a sense, there are ways to better manage your time, your communication with that person, and your team’s energy to best serve your organization. In this session you’ll learn about the benefits of leading your boss and walk away with practical tips you can use right away.

Best Practices: Working with Veteran and Military-Affiliated Families on Your Campus

Presenters: Alexandra Bailey, Spokane Falls Community College & Teresa Robinson-Duane, South Seattle College

Through their unique experiences and perspectives, Veterans and military-affiliated families bring an important voice to our campus communities. As colleges work to provide a smooth transition for these students, it is important that campuses look at their service models and evaluate the role of their departments in this important work. While some financial aid offices have Veterans and Military programing in their departments, actual department structure and staff knowledge of VA and military educational funding can vary campus by campus. This session will include a hybrid panel discussion and presentation, where we will discuss best-practices for Financial Aid staff to work with colleagues such as our VA Certifying Officials, Academic Advising and Onboarding departments, as well as how to use our financial aid knowledge to best support our Veterans and military families.

What You Need to Know: FAFSA Simplification Act

Presenter: Christina Winstead, Washington Student Achievement Council

Big changes are coming this fall for 2024-2025 financial aid applications! In this video we discuss the FAFSA Simplification Act, best practices in implementing changes, and how to communicate changes to partners, students, and their families. We will also share free resources to support you as you help students take their next steps.

Better FAFSA Training Scenarios

Presenter: Christina Winstead, Washington Student Achievement Council

Join us for a follow up to the session What You Need to Know: FAFSA Simplification Act. In this hands-on session, we will review student scenarios to help us practice supporting students with the 2024-25 FAFSA.

Building Partnerships and Leveraging Resources to Increase Capacity for Financial Aid Completion

Presenter: Christina Winstead, Washington Student Achievement Council

Financial Aid Advising Day is an opportunity to provide every senior and their family with key resources and knowledge for completing the financial aid application process. In this session we will discuss partnership opportunities and resources that have the potential to increase school’s capacity for financial aid completion.

Pell Calculations with FAFSA Simplification and Case Studies

Presenter: Molly Walsh, DigiPen and Co-Chair WASFAA Training Committee

So many things about needs analysis and the determination of Pell are changing under the new FAFSA Simplification, and this session will start the conversation about Pell calculations. From determining whether a student is eligible for maximum Pell, minimum Pell, or just calculated Pell, to determining how enrollment intensity impacts the amount of the Pell, to even understanding how the new SAI will work with the Pell Award, you will want to attend this session to get an insight as to how the new Pell will work. We will tackle specific student examples and look at the new SAI formula and some case studies associated with the changes from EFC to SAI.

Professional Judgement Determinations and Homeless Youth Session with FAFSA Simplification Changes

Presenter: Molly Walsh, DigiPen and Co-Chair WASFAA Training Committee

Learn more about the FAFSA Simplification Act’s changes to Professional Judgements on dependency status changes, Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, and how you can leverage these changes in your interactions, join us to talk about the a financial aid administrator’s authority to exercise professional judgments. Recent U.S. Department of Education guidance on financial aid (FAFSA) determinations for students in these situations will be discussed. We will also share best practices and implementations made by our institution. 

FAFSA Simplification: What is your School Doing and How to Handle the Tough Conversations

Presenter: Molly Walsh, DigiPen and Co-Chair WASFAA Training Committee

Join us to discuss how your school is tackling different aspects of FAFSA Simplification. Hear how others are determining Cost of Attendance with a housing question on the FAFSA, dealing with students who have lost Pell grant after multiple years of attendance, possible loss of Washington State Aid anyone and new components factored into assets. How do you handle these conversations with students and other departments across campus? We will talk about it all in this session. 

Keep Moving Forward: How Financial Aid Outreach Can Support Conditional Scholarship Recipients

Presenter: Inez Olive and Jessica Davis, Washington Student Achievement Council

The workforce labor challenges have resulted in more state and federal policies to support workforce demands. While student loan repayment has been top of mind for most, there has been an increase of interest in conditional scholarships. For some of our most challenged industries, conditional scholarships have been a tool to support the recruitment and retention of employees through the exchange of service for the award. The intersection with current student outreach is when students decide not to extend their employer contract and do not complete their academic program. Join us in an interactive discussion to brainstorm outreach strategies to support conditional scholarship recipients on your campus.

The Washington College Grant (WCG), WCG-Connect (WCG-C), State Aid Repayments

Presenter: Gabriele Matull Worst, Washington Student Achievement Council

In this session you will get a general overview of the Washington College Grant, requirements for awarding the Washington College Grant- Connect, and a review of the state financial aid repayment policy. This session is geared toward the new financial aid professional while also providing updated information regarding programmatic changes for others.

Challenges and Potential Solutions with WorkStudy

Presenter: Debbie Jackson, Washington Student Achievement Council, Melanie Ruiz, Shoreline Community College, Lisa Fortson, Clover Park Technical College, Rachel Lee, Olympic College & Joy Hicks, Bellingham Technical College

Join in on this panel discussion to talk about the challenges that have occurred with WorkStudy since the COVID-19 Pandemic. Join the session to discuss what colleges are doing as potential solutions to overcome these challenges and rebuild WorkStudy programs.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth – From a College Perspective

Presenter: Chantel Fields, Bellingham Technical College; Joy Hicks, Bellingham Technical College; & Molly Paterson, Western Washington University

During this session we will delve into various topics related to unaccompanied homeless youth. Attendees will build on their understanding of the determination processes and gain valuable insights into the holistic support required to help student overcome challenges. This presentation will include an overview of the processes involved with making determinations including discussion of key definitions. We will touch on the value of collaboration with internal and external partners. Through a series of case studies, we will explore various complexities and challenging determinations occurring at both four-year and two-year institutions with varying housing options. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in a Q&A discussion with presenters and attendees related to their experiences, processes, challenges and have opportunity to build connections with others.

Compassion within Compliance: Leveraging Financial Aid as an Equity Tool

Presenters: Teresa Robinson-Duane, South Seattle College; Beth Hawes, Green River College & Shawn Warner, Green River College

Join the conversation about bringing equity into our daily work. We will begin with a brief overview of higher education and financial aid history in the context of equity. This session will cover equity-focused changes to policies and procedures that have been implemented, as well as discussion and how to advocate for incorporating this foundation on our campuses.

How to Leverage Social Media to Increase Student Engagement

Presenter: Rosemary Martinez-Kepford, Earnest

With calls, email, texts, letters, and tweets, you might wonder how students still miss your messages. Students are overstimulated and if you want your message to be heard, you have to think like a social media company. Here, you will find the tools you need to engage your students on their terms and make your message heard.

Identifying and Preventing Financial Aid Fraud

Presenter: Kristen Gast & Brandon Waldren, Eide Bailly LLP

Just like Financial Aid is experiencing major changes, fraud in higher education is also changing. Are you familiar with the latest tactics and common practices that fraudsters are using to gain federal financial aid? Financial aid professionals are on the front line of identifying and reporting fraud. Join us as we explore the latest attempts that fraudsters are using to target intuitions. Using real life examples, we will discuss fraud cases that have targeted financial aid offices in the last two years, and we will discuss what is predicted to be the newest trends in fraudulent behavior. We will also talk about ways to spot fraud through common behaviors being used and how to work to prevent fraud from happening at your institution.

Identity Theft

Presenter: Jeff Lackey, Sallie Mae

Identity theft can be devastating. An identity thief can use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services. Restoring your credit status can cost time and money. During this session we’ll share tips and recommendations on preventing identity theft and how to repair your identity and credit if it is stolen.

The Future is Now: Preparing the Resumption of Repayment

Presenter: Greg Kerr, ECMC

We all know it’s coming  - the resumption of student loan repayment.  In this session, we will review what will happen when repayment actually resumes and how the past three years will impact your CDRs.  We will also discuss some best practices to help your students along the way.

Take a break: The Importance of Rest and Walking Away

Presenter: Greg Kerr, ECMC Solutions

In this session, we will examine why it is important to rest, take breaks, and walk away (even for a little bit) from the stressors in life. Sounds easy, right? But why aren't we doing this? Self-care can be challenging, and let's talk about why that is.

Engaging Gen Z with Clear Communications

Presenter: Wendy Papkoff, Campus Logic (Ellucian)

Higher ed leaders—particularly in enrollment—know that summer melt, manual support costs and jargon-packed communications are problems that must be addressed to support a better Gen Z student experience. Gen Z-ers spend 8+ hours a day online, yet enrollment and admissions teams struggle to get students to engage. In this session, we will explore proven communication strategies to move your students through your enrollment funnel and keep them committed through graduation. Learn new data and key strategies critical to enrollment leaders who want to maximize engagement among emerging generations.