MSFAA Memories - Shared by Ken Fridsma and Judy Florian

Monday, January 15, 2018 10:38 AM | Angela Sarah (Administrator)


Two Past Presidents share their MSFAA Memories

Ken Fridsma MSFAA Memory

Did you know that the Michigan Student Financial Aid Association once passed a resolution opposing the Basic Opportunity Grant Program, now the Pell Grant? Financial Aid Administrators back in 1972 were just getting used to the campus-based programs and were afraid the government would take over the awarding of grants. The fear was that the government would eliminate or reduce funding for the SEOG, CWSP and Perkins (NDSL) programs. The argument was why create another grant program when money proposed for the Basic Opportunity Grants (Pell) could be added to the SEOG program. Little did they know that the program they opposed would be the major source of funding for low-income students.

Judy Layer Florian MSFAA Memory

I served as MSFAA President from 1984-85 and have many fond memories of my time in financial aid and with MSFAA.

I remember the first winter meeting held abroad in Windsor, Canada. The conference was held at the Windsor Holiday Inn overlooking the Detroit River. After checking in at the front desk, I went to my room. When I opened the door, the chain was still on the door from the inside and there was a couple in bed that clearly didn’t want to be disturbed! How embarrassing was that!! Fortunately, I was given another “unoccupied” room. I remember talking with Mary Jo McCann, Director of Financial Aid at Muskegon Community College, and other “long time members.” I made some suggestions about things MSFAA could do differently. Mary Jo’s response to me was, “So get involved and make some of those changes.” That was the start of my involvement in MSFAA and I never looked back.

Winter meeting in Grand Rapids, I believe in 1981; we had a blizzard, which kept us snowbound at the hotel. When we decided to “venture out,” we used the snow scrapers provided by a vendor (I believe it was Republic Bank back then), to help clear our windshields. Unfortunately, most of the scrapers broke because they weren’t that sturdy and the ice was pretty thick! For those of us in the Detroit area, we had a car caravan back home, stopping at rest stops and restaurants along the way. Quite an adventure!

The BEOG Dial Award, issued by the US Department of Education in 1980-81 was used to calculate a student’s annual BEOG Grant (now the Pell Grant). I remember Michelle Simmons, then at Wayne State University, indicating they would consider putting the Dial Award in the front lobby and let the students take 3 spins for a $1. The highest amount would be the student’s award for the year! Handle that in an audit!!

During my year as MSFAA President, I traveled to Lansing to meet with Governor Blanchard so he could sign the Financial Aid Awareness Month proclamation. Ron Jursa from the State of Michigan Scholarships and Grants Office joined me. I was so excited to meet the governor. I remember waiting a half hour for the governor and when he finally came in, we were whisked in and out in less than 5 minutes! So much for meeting the governor - no time to chat! Whew!

MSFAA’s first meeting on Mackinac Island was held during the summer of my presidential year. We weren’t sure how many people would venture “off the mainland” to attend, but we were pleasantly surprised at the large turnout! We also had a nice boat trip out to the Mackinac Bridge, which ended with a thunderstorm, leaving all of us drenched!

When a group of MSFAA members would eat out during conference dinners, Glenn O’Kray played the “Who has the same birthday?” game with those sitting around the table. Invariably, there would be at least two people with the same birthday. However, Glenn hit a snag at a meeting in Traverse City one year when, with a group of 15 at the table, no one had the same birthday. So, Glenn started going to other tables in the restaurant, asking complete strangers, if they had a birthday that matched anyone at our table! Of course, he eventually found one!!

I will always remember MSFAA as an organization where all financial aid officers worked together, willingly shared their ideas and always helping each other. No problem was too difficult to solve. We were never competitive like the Admissions folks and because of that, I think all of us felt a close bond with each other. I can remember many of my mentors and our past leaders, Henry Dykema, Ed Harkenrider, Glenn O’Kray, Ken Fridsma, Mary Jo McCann and Dick Johnson emphasizing to always keep students as the main focus of our efforts and not let the “regulations” get in the way of helping students get a higher education. I hope financial aid officers today can still continue that focus!

I am so sorry to miss MSFAA’s 50th anniversary celebration! Michael and I will be in Florida, a destination of ours each winter since our retirement! Wishing all MSFAA members a happy celebration and much success in the future!


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