History of MSFAA

MSFAA formally came into being as a logical outgrowth of a number of unofficial aid administrator groups meeting throughout the state. The most all-inclusive of these groups was that which gathered periodically at the offices of the Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority (MHEAA). The meetings, held at the MHEAA headquarters in Lansing-East Lansing, were conducted to discuss common problems with the state scholarship, tuition grant and state GSL programs. While the focus of the meetings centered on these issues, other common problems were discussed. 

The other group of aid administrator meetings prior to the formation of MSFAA were by type and control. The Big Ten institutions had been meeting for some time, originally to discuss athletic awards, but moved quickly into general student aid concerns. The private institutions also gathered under the auspices of their association for private colleges, while the junior and community colleges met periodically in Flint at the junior college there. 

As these meetings occurred, the financial aid funds available to institutions were increasing rapidly. The first aid administrators' beginners workshops had been held under the sponsorship of Don Allen, Director of Financial Aid, Indiana University, to help personnel new to the profession cope with administering the new aid programs. These workshops were later taken over by MSFAA and conducted under their sponsorship. It was at the MSFAA meeting at Indiana University in 1967 that the charge to formulate a Michigan Aid Administrators group was given. It is interesting to note that MSFAA was organized before many of its current constituents. As part of the MSFAA program from that particular convention, time was set aside for aid personnel from each state to meet together, with MSFAA's hope that we'd organize state associations. 

It was at this Indiana meeting that those Michigan aid personnel present selected a steering committee to lay the ground work for the State organization. The individuals selected for this committee were: 

  • Henry Dykema, Michigan State University, Chair 
  • John Kimball, Alma College 
  • Lee Fawcett, Wayne State University 
  • Ed Harkenrider, Western Michigan University 
  • Dick Johnson, Genesee Community College 
  • Tom Blesch, Glen Oaks Community College 

The first meeting of the group was scheduled for Wayne State University in December, 1967. The group met following the MSFAA meeting and all selected members of the steering committee were present. It should be noted that the steering committee members were not necessarily selected based on type or control representation, but because of their previous leadership roles within the nucleus of Michigan aid personnel. This initial meeting laid the groundwork for the Association. The following officers were selected to represent the Association until such time as the organization could be officially formed, solidified and a formal election held. 

  • Lee Fawcett, President, Wayne State University 
  • John Bogner, Vice President, Lansing Community College 
  • Ed Harkenrider, Secretary, Western Michigan University 
  • Jim Dryer, Treasurer, Olivet College 

The organization grew rapidly and gained the formal "trappings" of any professional group. The first newsletter and Association logo were developed in Flint; a constitution was formulated and adopted; despite some turmoil due to changes in employment and responsibility (which saw a number of presidents serve terms longer than one year), the Association prospered. During its first year of organization, MSFAA officers met with presidents in other states in the Midwest with the then Office of Education-Chicago branch. It was there that MSFAA shared with the other states our regional concept where the state was divided into regions. 

It was only a short time after the Association was organized that its leadership was recognized under the reign of its third President, John Kimball, Alma College. He was the first MSFAA member invited to testify before a congressional committee. Shortly thereafter, the first MSFAA Summer Workshop was held at Michigan State University. Ruth Schaeffer, Wayne State University, Sister Xaveria Barton, Marygrove College and Dick Johnson, Genesee Community College, presiding. This workshop set the plateau and tradition for many to follow. 

In 1972, the first MSFAA member was elected to MSFAA. Michigan also began its tradition of providing in-service training for its aid personnel, highlighted by the commencement of the drive-in workshops in 1973. Workshops for support personnel and other training activities, which often preceded or followed the Federal FISAP workshops were held in the Fall of each year. 

It was not too long before the size of the group grew to the point that its traditional meetings with MHEAA could no longer be contained in those facilities. The Kellogg Center in East Lansing became the site of future meetings, until they moved and continue to be conducted at the Michigan Department of Education offices in Lansing. 

MSFAA currently boasts a membership in excess of 500, including practicing lenders. The Association achieved non-profit 501(c)(3) status in 1982 and continues to serve as a leader in state, regional and national activities. 


*Published in the MSFAA Year of the States-A Look at the Past, October, 1985 

Contributions to this history provided by Ed Harkenrider and Dick Johnson


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