Its 2018! Are You Ready?

I woke up today, two weeks into a new year and it hit me. My youngest child is a second semester freshmen and like many other students will be returning to campus in a few days looking for guidance to begin a new semester. Some may be starting a new chapter in life. The question is are they ready? Am I? Are you? How did we get here and where are we headed? As financial aid professionals, we have so much to digest, assess, process, dissect and do. I’m curious. Have you been able to catch up on all that reading? I’ve tried. Before the holidays, I brought home a copy of the SAR C Comment Code Guide from the EASFAA training session that I attended in December so I could wrap my head around codes 400 and 401. I printed NASFAA’s summary of the Prosper Act and a slew of ifap notices related to cyber security. But the breakneck speed of the pre and post holiday rush along with a-much anticipated office relocation and daily life got in the way.

I returned to campus on January 2nd, with reading still undone, eager to start 2018, and was welcomed by 8 boxes that needed unpacking, the reality of finalizing fall financial aid for our beloved procrastinators and a new group of spring admits that needed awarding. Still, that first weekend in January, energized by the New Year, power-point ready, I attended FAFSA Day. I was greeted by an equally energized, well prepared, early admit who has yet to consider the role that winter and summer sessions may have in his future. He was curious to know when he would receive his award notice for the fall semester.  And at that moment… My anxiety took over.  So now I have to ask, am I the only anxious one? Are you prepared for 2018? Is your system updated and ready for 2018/19 processing? And while we’re on the topic of systems and information technology, how are you faring with the new regulations regarding cyber security that I am still combing through? Personally, what I did get through reading during the holiday break overwhelmed me! My take thus far, if you haven’t already established an excellent relationship with the Information Technology group, please do so now. What about the Prosper Act that I mentioned earlier? Did you get to finish reading the proposals and amendments being suggested? The word on the hill is that we’re moving toward simplification, but personally, my thought is that we have a long way to go. But here’s the reason, I felt compelled to write today.

If you are one of the lucky prepared ones, ready for the challenges ahead, please share your accomplishments and your methods. Join a NJASFAA committee. Be a mentor or a trainer. Make 2018, NJASFAA’s 50th, one of celebration and collaboration; one in which we chose to support each other, our students and the intent of the Higher Education Act.  Keep the conversation going with your colleagues, your Director, your VP and yes, the President. Ours is an important mission. Don’t get discouraged. There is still much to do! Best of luck to you and the students on your campus. I hope to see you in Atlantic City in March.

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