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updated 6.7.19




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President's Welcome

Welcome to the Mississippi Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA) website.

As the 52nd President of MASFAA, I am honored to be part of an organization whose legacy remains viable in assisting students secure financial aid which helps them achieve academic success. I prepared this address just after our MASFAA Executive Board’s annual transition/planning meeting. We had a very productive two days together as we strengthened our bonds as board members and developed future visions for our organization. One of our exercises involved using our mission statement as a springboard for generating new goals and programming ideas as filtered through our theme this year of "Believing and Achieving in All We Do." Here is some of the results of our exercise:

As we continue to build an effective community of financial aid administrators, we want to:

  • Provide to our members more opportunities for web meetings or Zoom sessions.
  • Reinstate regular MASFAA board member visits to the schools in our association.

By encouraging the exchange of ideas, we hope to:

  • Increase and stimulate volunteerism.
  • Share more ideas/information through the MASFAA Listserv.

In developing the professional expertise of our members, we want to:

  • Offer leadership, professional development, or customer service related sessions during our training events and at our annual conference.
  • Poll members about their own areas of professional expertise to share and expand our professional knowledge.

By effectively and ethically promoting access to higher education, we hope to:

  • Reduce barriers that hinder student access to financial aid.
  • Develop MASFAA’s “collective voice” for State Legislative visits and events.

In striving to meet the needs of our diverse constituents we hope to:

  • Become more empathetic and better listeners.
  • Think more “globally” in our approach to diversity.

I am very eager and excited to see how these ideas will manifest into goals and activities this year that will benefit our members and the students we serve.

I am extremely grateful for those on the MASFAA board and committees and for their service to MASFAA. They are a dedicated and enthusiastic group who ably and graciously support MASFAA’s members and its mission. I also hope this will be a year of sharing as we work together to build community among our existing and any prospective MASFAA members, renew our dedication to volunteerism, strengthen our leadership and increase our professional development, advocate for our profession and students with State and Federal legislators, provide quality training opportunities for our members, and constantly seek ways to increase awareness of diversity in our workplaces and within our association.

We hope to have more information out soon about Fall Training and also, don’t forget to SAVE THE DATE for the 2019 Annual MASFAA Conference at the Pearl River Resort, June 19-21, 2019. Nicole Patrick is serving as our Conference Chair this year. She and the Conference Committee are already underway planning for a great event which will provide valuable networking and training opportunities for MASFAA members!

Some of you may know that my introduction to a career in financial aid began when I was a work-study student in the financial aid office at Elmhurst College, my undergraduate institution. For many years after that my primary professional focus was in church music. My detour back to financial aid was when I secured an advisor position in the Office of Financial Aid at The University of Mississippi while I was completing my PhD in Music Education there (I’m now serving as one of two assistant directors in our office). Without going into too much detail, the premise of my music education dissertation study was to determine pedagogical lineages and to show the process and benefits of one generation of musical instructors passing their knowledge and expertise on to future generations. The same can be said of any historic organization, even MASFAA!

This year we lost two pillars of our association, Jack Woodward and Ken Wooten. Both men were founding members of MASFAA and profoundly influenced the financial aid profession, all our associations (MASFAA, SASFAA and NASFAA), and many members within each. Both were dedicated to helping families navigate the pathways of financial aid in order that students might achieve access to higher education. In a very real way, I am humbled to be a part of the legacy these men began. We are ALL part of the lineage of professionals and volunteers who by their efforts (and as stated in our Vision Statement) had and continue to have a profound impact on the lives of people who desire to achieve a higher education but believe it is impossible due to financial constraints.

This year I challenge you to keep MASFAA’s legacy going! Do your part to become more actively involved in MASFAA by attending MASFAA sponsored events, or consider serving on a committee, or contributing to the Listserv. This association is YOUR association, and we need your energy, ideas, and support! The connections made in MASFAA foster personal and professional growth that sustain us in our mission and work as financial aid administrators. Those before us laid the foundation on which we continue to build to keep MASFAA viable for the next 50 years or more! I look forward to serving as MASFAA President, but more so, a year of working together “believing and achieving in all we do.”

Steven Taranto
2018-19 MASFAA President

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