Labor Day is behind us and summer is nearly gone. As we welcome a new class of students to our campuses and classrooms, NJASFAA Committees are starting to organize their agendas. It’s easy for the seasons and the years to blur into one another: fall, winter, spring summer.
Twenty-eight years ago, I became a financial aid administrator in New York State. Twenty-two years ago, I accepted a position in New Jersey and joined NJASFAA. In 2011, Jim Anderson asked me to join the Government Relations Committee and then, in 2012, to take on the challenge of being NJASFAA Treasurer. That was the year that Sandy decided to wreak havoc on New Jersey and upend the fall conference. I asked myself as I struggled to maintain “work-life” balance with three children, one about to graduate college, a second in his sophomore year and a third about to enter high school how I thought I could accomplish it all. I still wonder what I was thinking but I plowed on. I got past being Treasurer and then Past-Treasurer with an awful lot of help and support from Doug Wilson and my family. The NJASFAA bug had bitten me. Once you get involved it’s hard to become uninvolved. You make personal connections. You share your experiences with colleagues from across the State. You read about upcoming legislative proposals. You squirm thinking what these will mean when they are implemented. All along, you ask yourself how much can a financial aid officer be tasked with doing? How can I sensibly explain SULA, PELL LEU, legal guardianship, the effect of R2T4 formulas and modules, while juggling reporting deadlines and system implementation? And you realize that to maintain your sanity and this profession alive you need to become engaged in the process, whether it’s advocating for simplification, sharing your expertise and knowledge with others, mentoring a new professional, assisting in expanding financial literacy or promoting dialogue. NJ has a vibrant and diverse community of financial aid professionals. I hope you accept the challenge to become an active participant and that we have the opportunity to meet at an event sometime in the near future