In this issue:
General News    |    Featured Tool    |    College Planning    |    Who's Who    |    Financial Aid
Scholarships & Other Aid Opportunities    |    Financial Literacy    |    Student Loan Management    |    Calendar

General News

Six Tips to Make Students Career Fair Pros

Career fairs are a great opportunity for your students to practice their people skills while meeting, and hopefully impressing, recruiters from a variety of companies. In a crowd of potential candidates, it takes more than good luck and a winning smile to stand out. Below are some key strategies that will help your students make a good impression in a short amount of time.

Ask the Expert: When is the FAFSA Deadline?

While filing the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1 is highly encouraged, the actual deadline is much later than many people think. The deadline for submitting a 2014-2015 FAFSA is June 30, 2015; however, the earlier students file, the sooner they know what aid is available to them so they can compare financial aid options and make an educated decision about which college to attend. Students should be aware that some individual aid programs have earlier deadlines.

To assist students and families with the FAFSA process, add a link to UCanGo2's FAFSA education website, , to your website. Remember, students won't know which type of financial aid they qualify for unless they take the first step and complete the FAFSA. The earlier students have their financial needs covered for the upcoming fall semester, the sooner they can concentrate on other issues they will encounter in the transition from high school to college.

Program Spotlight: Reach Higher

Reach Higher is Oklahoma's degree completion program, designed for working adults who've already earned college credit and want to finish a degree. Nine of Oklahoma's public regional universities and 14 public community colleges and technical branches offer on-campus and online class options and multiple enrollment periods for adult learners through Reach Higher.

Depending on their career goals and the number of college credit hours they've already earned, students can choose between an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science in enterprise development or a Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership. Additionally, many campuses are reviewing other existing degree programs that may be of interest to returning adults. With a Reach Higher degree, students receive the leadership training, communications skills and business knowledge they need to get ahead.

Visit to find out more about the degrees offered and program requirements.

Featured Tool

Featured Tool: OKMM's Online Clearinghouse

Online Clearinghouse

Find money management resources at your fingertips with OKMM's Online Clearinghouse.

If you're looking for personal finance lesson plans, blogs, games, calculators or tools, Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) can help! Our online resource clearinghouse is a tool that helps teachers, professors, counselors and administrators access valuable information and instructional materials that support financial education for all ages. The clearinghouse features hundreds of money management resources that are searchable by language, subject, audience served, resource type and keyword.

We encourage you to explore the clearinghouseand share this information with your staff and the audiences you serve.

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Who's Who

Do You Know Andrew Hammontree?


Meet Andrew, 2014 president of the Southwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SWASFAA).

Tell us about your background in financial aid and your current position.

I began my career in financial aid as a student worker at Oklahoma Christian University in 1994. They said they hired me because I said I could type 80 words per minute on my work-study application. It was my first real job, and I was scared to death to go to work every day, but I was also obsessed with figuring out how all the pieces fit together. Before I finished my bachelor's, the financial aid director asked if I would be interested in a full-time position. I was an English major, and I didn't have any other jobs lined up, so of course I said yes. I thought I would be there for two years at the most. I ended up being there for another nine years. In 2006 I accepted a position at Francis Tuttle Technology Center as the director of financial aid and scholarships. I am also the certifying official for all the students receiving veteran benefits.

Can you tell us a little bit about SWASFAA and the benefits of membership?

SWASFAA is the regional professional association for financial aid administrators in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Our mission is to enhance the professional development of financial aid administrators. Financial aid administration is a complicated career field, and networking with colleagues is vital for our success. SWASFAA provides its members access to a community of people who can exchange ideas and best practices to help promote professional excellence.

In addition to the networking benefit, SWASFAA provides training opportunities throughout the year. This year we plan to offer a webinar on best practices, and the boot camp we offer to new aid officers in November has always been a big success. I'm happy to announce that the members who attend this year's boot camp will be eligible to take the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) credentialing exams in a variety of subjects without an additional charge.

We have a great relationship with NASFAA and with the trainers from the U.S. Department of Education. The quality training they provide is one of the greatest reasons for attending the annual conference. Because SWASFAA is still relatively small, people who attend the conference have an opportunity to talk to the federal trainers one-on-one, which is not always possible in a larger setting.

Additional benefits of SWASFAA include access to the membership directory, with contact information for all its members, and access to the listserv, where people can ask questions and exchange ideas.

What are your goals for SWASFAA this year?

My main goal for this year is to increase the number of training opportunities for members. This is challenging because everyone's budgets are decreasing, so any training SWASFAA offers needs to be affordable. Because travel is so expensive, we plan to offer a best practices webinar on professional judgment later in the spring. The webinar will be free to anyone who is a member of SWASFAA. If the webinar is successful, we will offer additional webinars in the future.

When we surveyed our membership last year, many people expressed an interest in leadership development. I'm excited to announce that we are planning a leadership workshop prior to the annual conference in November. Hopefully, we will be able to expand upon this idea in the years to come.

Finally, I want to increase the communication with members. We've seen increased activity on the SWASFAA listserv lately, and we're disseminating more information through social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter. I have also started a blog to keep people up-to-date on what's going on in our region.

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College Planning

New GI Bill Comparison Tool Launched

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new GI Bill comparison tool that features price and student outcomes for more than 10,000 VA-approved education and training programs. This is great news for veterans who want to make use of their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

Similar to the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard, the new website provides additional information specific to GI Bill recipients. With this user-friendly tool, veterans can make sense of their benefits and figure out how much they can use for tuition, fees, projected housing allowances and book stipends.

Resulting from a presidential executive order aimed at ensuring colleges disclose more information to assist student veterans and launched in conjunction with the release of the federal online complaint system for military and veteran students, the comparison tool uses comprehensive datasets that are developed with information drawn from federal agencies and 17 other sources. The website also provides information about where other veterans and their family members are attending college.

To receive an estimate of GI Bill benefits and more information about educational services and affordability, veterans should visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs site.

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Financial Aid

2014 OASFAA Spring Training Events

The Oklahoma Association of Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA) has two exciting training opportunities in April.

First, the organization will hold its annual Support Staff Training on April 4 at the Moore-Norman Technology Center's Franklin Road Campus in Norman. The morning session will be a Financial Literacy and Budgeting Boot Camp. Melissa Neal, OCAP's Outreach Coordinator for Oklahoma Money Matters, will lead this engaging session. Participants will discuss different budgeting methods and tools, identify practical ways to ensure flexibility in a personal monthly budget and step through the process of creating a budget that is both reasonable and realistic. This session will also cover some basic theory about personal credit. Participants will discuss what to look for in a credit product, identify strategies for responsibly managing credit and discuss the value and process of monitoring credit reports.

The afternoon session will consist of a NASFAA CORE training module. The Application Process module is designed to introduce the application and delivery system processes, including the electronic and paper financial aid applications. Participants who complete this session will be eligible to take a NASFAA Credentialing Exam at no charge. This is a $100 savings over the normal exam fee. Registration for this event is free to OASFAA members. There is a $10 per person charge for non-members. Click here to register for these free training sessions .

The second training event is OASFAA's annual conference, April 23-25 at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City. OCAP is scheduled to present two sessions at this year's conference. The first, Social Media in the Financial Aid Office, will be presented by Lacy Myers, OCAP's Multimedia Coordinator. This session will focus on strategies and methods for developing and maintaining an effective presence on common social media platforms.

The second session, focusing on C-Flags and Comment Codes that are reported on the FAFSA, will be conducted by Scott DeBoard. Participants will explore the meanings of different codes and how aid administrators can resolve them.

More information about this year's OASFAA conference, along with registration and hotel information, can be found at

What's New on IFAP?

Dear Colleague Letters


Electronic Announcements

150% Direct Subsidized Loan Limit
Cohort Default Rates

Common Manual Update

The latest version of the Integrated Common Manual is available on the Common Manual website. (external class)   As always, if you have questions about the manual, contact our Compliance department at 405.234.4432, 800.247.0420 (toll free) or

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Scholarships and Other Aid Opportunities

Varsity Tutors conducts a $1,000 monthly scholarship contest. Each month, applicants may submit an essay answering a different question. Winners are chosen based on online votes, and applicants can promote their essay via popular social media outlets. This month's essay question is, "What is one of your academic achievements and how has it impacted you?" Entries for this month must be submitted by March 15. April's essay topic and deadline will be posted soon.

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Financial Literacy

Why Didn't I Think of That? Low-budget "Life Hacks"

Have you ever come across an idea that made you say, "Why didn't I think of that before?" If so, you may have discovered a "life hack." Life hacks are inexpensive or free techniques that can simplify your life. We've compiled a list of our favorites to help you streamline your daily activities.

  1. Save space. Store your pot and pan lids on the inside of your kitchen cabinet doors using simple adhesive hooks or towel racks. When installing the hooks or racks, leave enough space for each lid to rest easily on the door.
  2. Keep it together. Use binder clips to keep items in place, such as tea bags in a mug, socks in the washing machine, trash bags in the bin, etc. Discover more clever uses for binder clips online.
  3. No spoon? No problem. Use the aluminum lid of an applesauce or yogurt container as a spoon. Don't forget to recycle when you're done.
  4. Get a grip. If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow and you don't have kitty-litter on-hand, place your floor mats underneath the spinning tire(s) for traction.
  5. Tone and tighten. Love to laugh? Want to exercise more? Laughing for 15 consecutive minutes can help strengthen your core.
  6. Stick to it. Remembering which shoe goes on which foot can be hard, especially for young children (or for anyone early in the morning). Reduce confusion by cutting a sticker in half and placing one half on the inside of each shoe. The sticker should line up when the shoes are on the correct feet.
  7. Add counter space. Use a pants hanger to keep your cookbook off of the counter and away from unruly ingredients. Slide the edges of the book into the clips and hang it from a cabinet door handle.
  8. Get organized. Closet door shoe caddies can be used for more than holding your shoes. Hang one inside your laundry room door to store cleaning products, or hang one on the back of a seat as a snack and activity organizer in your car.
  9. Open sesame. Struggling to open a jar? Cut a 6-inch piece of duct tape, stick half along the rim of the lid, pull and viola— the jar should open. Out of duct tape? Gently tap the lid on a hard surface while rotating the jar to help release the pressure holding the lid.

Find more useful tips and tricks at, and

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Student Loan Management

Crash Course in Credit: What Every Student (and Everyone Else) Needs to Know

When Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) staff visit campuses to talk credit with college students, we generally encounter two camps — those who completely shun credit and those who openly embrace it (maybe a little too much). Below are five key pieces of information we share that help both parties find middle ground.

  1. Don't fear credit. Many people fear credit because, when handled poorly, it can lead to overwhelming debt and cause feelings of stress and uncertainty. It's important to remember that credit isn't inherently good or bad; it's a tool. Like many tools, its effectiveness depends on the user. When handled responsibly, credit can help you do great things, like buy a car, purchase a home or pay for your education. Responsible users make smart borrowing choices, save credit for emergencies, keep balances low and make their payments on time, every time.
  2. Credit is important. How you handle credit affects more than your ability to qualify for additional credit. Your credit history (aka your credit report) often serves as a character reference and can impact your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. It can even influence how much you'll pay for insurance premiums or utilities. Your credit report is a snapshot of how you handle your financial commitments. Most accounts remain on your report for seven years; bankruptcies can remain for 10; and unpaid student loans and tax liens remain indefinitely until repaid.
  3. All credit isn't created equal. Credit takes many forms and no two products are completely alike. Whether you're in the market for a mortgage, credit card, auto loan or student loan, it's best to compare products and lenders to find the tool that best meets your needs. Compare interest rates, repayment options and borrower perks, like frequent flier miles and cashback bonus programs. Do your research before completing an application, because multiple credit applications can lower your credit score, blemishing your credit history.
  4. Borrow wisely. Don't make the mistake of using credit to live a lifestyle you can't afford; this practice is a recipe for disaster. When using a credit card, it's a good idea to charge only as much as you can afford to pay back when the bill is due. When it comes to student loans, borrow conservatively and only what you need to cover your school-related expenses. A good rule of thumb is to limit the total amount borrowed to no more than you anticipate earning during your first year after college.
  5. Monitor your credit record. It's important to monitor your credit history on a regular basis to make sure your information is correct and no one is misusing your information. Mistakes on credit reports are common and can be disputed, but you can't correct them if you're not aware of them. It's recommended that you request your free credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies at least once each year by visiting

For more tips and resources to help your students handle credit and master their money, refer them to OKMM's Money Management for College Students self-paced online learning module.

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