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

New Name, Same Great Service

You may have noticed the Online News looks a little different this month. That’s because we’ve changed our name from the Oklahoma Guaranteed Student Loan Program (OGSLP) to the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP). It’s no secret that over the past year, the federal student loan industry has faced many challenges. We’ve all had to make some major adjustments and OGSLP was no exception. In response to these industry changes, we’ve adjusted our business model, changed our name and redesigned the Online News to reflect our more focused mission on student support services.

OCAP logoAs you all know, our primary role until recently has been guaranteeing federal student loans. As OCAP, we'll continue to service our existing student loan portfolio, but we’re also expanding our existing programs and campaigns that support college planning, personal finance education and student loan management, including our college access program, UCanGo2 (external link), and our financial literacy initiative, Oklahoma Money Matters (external link). The new and improved Online News will now feature information on all of these topics for a wider audience and continue to provide you the latest financial aid industry news.

We look forward to continued collaboration as we grow together and find new ways to meet the needs of Oklahoma students!

OKMM’s Self-Paced Learning Modules

Successfully managing your money is a skill that’s necessary in every stage of life. Whether you’re a college student, parent or retiree, OKMM’s self-paced learning modules are designed to help you navigate important decisions and give you the tools you need to make informed financial choices.

Our current selection of consumer modules explores:Screen shot of four available modules

Each module contains learning objectives, tools, a quiz and a completion certificate. To see how these modules can benefit you, your clients or students, visit our module home page (external link).  Also, be on the lookout for two new modules—Saving & Banking and  Transitioning to Independent Living.

Making Work Work

Assert Yourself for Workplace Success

Assertiveness will help you build positive relationships at work and, like most constructive traits, can be learned. Here are some practical tools that can help you take control of your career.

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Featured Tool

Exit Counseling

Target with an arrow in the bullseyeFinancial aid administrators, our in-person exit counseling presentation is ready for a premiere at your school!

This one-hour, live presentation is designed to help schools with their exit counseling responsibilities, including those identified in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). Through one-on-one interaction, our trainers emphasize the importance of students’ loan repayment obligations. During the presentation, we’ll describe repayment options and encourage students to ask for assistance when they need it. By providing this complimentary training, we also hope to help schools positively affect cohort default rates.

Why should you consider in-person exit counseling at your school?

We recognize that some of you may want to present in-person exit counseling yourself. To help, we offer a PowerPoint presentation that covers all the federal exit counseling requirements with detailed slides and speaker notes that expand on critical areas.

To request our complimentary, in-person exit counseling at your location, contact Risa Johnson at 405.234.4233 or To request a copy of our exit counseling PowerPoint presentation on CD, contact our Default Prevention department at 800.358.5460 or

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College Planning

Get College Ready This Summer

SWOSU students posing for photo

Photo provided courtesy of SWOSU

Summer is just around the corner and we all know what that means for most teens: family vacations, hanging out with friends at the pool and … preparing for college? While college prep may not be at the top of their to-do list this summer, it’s important for high school students to use their time wisely by adding to their list of accomplishments and getting ready for life after high school.

Hopefully they’ve already started by taking the right classes and focusing on getting good grades. Here are a few more ways they can start preparing.

  1. Volunteer. When writing those college admission and scholarship essays, it’s a great idea to write about volunteer activities. Whether it’s being a camp counselor, a math tutor or a volunteer at an animal shelter, serving the community can give students an edge over the other applicants. And who knows - they might have some fun, too.

    Do you work with some students who already have a lot of volunteer experience? If so, have them make a list of those activities. Ask them to write down what they learned, which skills they developed and how those skills will help them succeed in the future. They can refer to this list when writing an admission essay.

  2. Job shadow. Students should talk to their counselor or parent(s) about their career goals.  Once they’ve identified some goals, it's a good idea for them to talk to someone who works in that profession and “shadow” that person for a work day to see what the job entails. Spending time working in the field they’re considering can give them more insight and help them discover if the career is a good fit.

  3. Get ready for the ACT/SAT. When it comes to college admission, the ACT and SAT play a big role. Students should set aside some time this summer to take an ACT or SAT prep course so they can feel confident when the time comes to actually take the test. Free practice tests are available online at (external link)  under the Test Prep tab. Students will want to take the ACT or SAT more than once, because their score will likely increase each time.

    Although the ACT is more common in Oklahoma, students should check with the schools they’re interested in attending to find out which test is preferred. Of course, schools don’t base admissions exclusively on test scores. There are other admission options, but it’s best to meet a school’s minimum test score requirement.

  4. Work hard, save money. Students should consider getting a summer job to earn some extra cash. Money from a summer job can be saved and then used for college-related expenses, including tuition, books, dorm room accessories and campus fun. In addition, they could look for a job in a field they might be interested in pursuing to earn money and gain experience at the same time.

  5. Research. Some students haven’t decided which school to apply to or what they want to major in, which makes summer the perfect time to start researching and narrowing down their choices. (external link)  lets students check out Oklahoma colleges and universities online.

  6. Goal tending. Writing down goals and posting them in a prominent location, like on a refrigerator or bathroom mirror, can help students stay focused on making goals a reality. Whether it’s getting into the school of their dreams or scoring a scholarship, it’s important not only to keep goals in sight, but to outline the actions they must take to make it happen.

College Fairs…in Spring?

flowers growing out of graducation capThink college fairs only happen in the fall? Think again! Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa host fairs in early May for sophomores, juniors and their parents.  These programs are sponsored by the Great Plains Association of College Admission Counseling (GPACAC) and give families a chance to get a head start on visiting with more than 40 college representatives.

The Tulsa fair is Sunday, May 1, from 2 – 4 p.m. at the University of Tulsa (TU) Reynolds Center (view a map of TU (external link)).  Carissa Cummins, Assistant Director of the University of Oklahoma’s Prospective Student Services says, “We will have two, 45-minute presentations in conjunction with the fair. One will review financial aid processes and the other will cover NCAA policy and procedures for potential college athletes.”

The GPACAC fair in Oklahoma City will be held the following night, Monday, May 2, from 6 - 8 p.m. in Oklahoma City University’s (OCU) Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity center (view a map of OCU (external link)). This fair will host more than 40 universities and offer presentations on financial aid and UCanGo2, the Oklahoma College Assistance Program’s (OCAP) college outreach program. “I would like to encourage metro area students and their parents to attend this GPACAC sponsored college fair. This is a great opportunity for students to begin their college search,” says Christina Mallory, Admission Counselor at OCU.

OCAP encourages students and parents to take advantage of these college fairs and, if they haven't already, start researching colleges over the summer.  It’s never too early to start planning for your future!

5 Outstanding Seniors Named Chancellor Scholars

Outstanding leadership, civic involvement and academic talent have earned five Oklahoma high school seniors a scholarship named in honor of one of Oklahoma’s former chancellors.

Maddison Bruer, Norman High School; Dalaney Flies, Carl Albert High School in Midwest City; Jessica Heiser, Altus High School; Cody Ressel, Comanche High School; and Courtney Winchester, Marietta High School, will each receive a $2,000 award as part of the Chancellor Hans Brisch Scholarship program.

The Chancellor’s Scholars Program, created in 1990 with private funds, was renamed in 2006 to honor Brisch, who served as chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education for 15 years. Brisch retired in 2003 and passed away in February 2006. The 2011 Chancellor Hans Brisch Scholars were selected from 65 nominations made by high school principals statewide.

"These talented high school seniors make a difference in the lives of others by consistently giving back to their communities,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. "These students are joining an elite group of young Oklahoma leaders. We congratulate each of them and wish them the best as they begin their higher education experience.”

Learn more about these deserving students on the State Regents website (external link).

Summer Academies Accepting Applications

The State Regents' 2011 Summer Academies (external link) offers middle and high school students unique opportunities to discover the fascinating worlds of aeronautics, architecture, engineering, environmental conservation, forensic science and much more. The academies are free and give students the chance to spend time at an Oklahoma college or university. Additional information for each program is available on the 2011 Summer Academies (external link) Web page at or by calling 800.858.1840 (toll-free).

Federal Push to Boost College Completion

Vice President Joe Biden recently unveiled the Obama administration's new college access and completion initiatives (external link), which include tools to help state governors work collaboratively with colleges and universities to boost access and completion. Additionally, a Chronicle of Higher Education article (external link)  recently highlighted national non-profit organization Excelencia in Education (external link)  and their release of a local, state and federal policy roadmap to improve college graduation rates among Hispanic students.

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Who's Who

OU Health Sciences Center

Meet the financial aid office professionals at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center:

Pamela Jordan, Director, is the overall department supervisor, scholarship coordinator, report manager and, as usual in a director’s life, the go-to person for all unusual situations.

Mendy Schmerer, Assistant Director, is the staff supervisor, systems analyst for PeopleSoft setup and aid processing, and troubleshooter for all processing and compliance issues.

Audra Main, Loan Coordinator, is a counselor who specializes in professional judgment processing.

Lori Frazee, Senior Financial Aid Representative, serves as front desk backup, processes institutional loans, counsels students, completes verification and provides entrance and exit counseling.

Stacey Harris, Financial Aid Representative, covers the front desk, meets with students and provides initial verification.

Andrella Opbe, Counselor, is the team's ISIR processor, Pell expert and tuition waiver processor.

What do you like most about your job?

Stacey says: From a student’s perspective, financial aid can be a very intimidating, overwhelming and a confusing process. I like that my job allows me to help students wade through financial aid and perhaps come out of it with a better understanding of the overall process. I find it most satisfying when someone comes in completely clueless and leaves somewhat comfortable with financial aid.

Lori says: I enjoy the everyday interaction with students and staff. It's very rewarding knowing that you're helping students with financial decisions that'll impact not only their lives while at OUHSC, but also their future in the health care industry. We also have a great group of ladies to work with and they make OUHSC a fantastic place to work.

What does your staff do to go the extra mile for your students?

Andrella says: We have an open- door policy.  Our staff and counselors are available to meet and discuss the financial aid process one-on-one with any student Monday through Friday during our office hours of 8-5. Our office doesn't close for any particular period of time during office hours.  If a student can't visit the office, we'll schedule a telephone conference. We set aside uninterrupted time to discuss their questions and the financial aid process.

Pam adds: Only about 10% of our students ever step foot in the financial aid office. We answer many questions via email, and sometimes even at odd hours of the evening or on weekends if one of us happens to be sitting at a computer and decides to check our work email. Also, OUHSC has a self-service component for students on the system so they can accept or decline awards and check financial aid and bursar accounts 24/7.

What are some of the unique services your department provides?

Audra says: We provide extensive exit counseling to our students, who are health professional students (i.e. medical, dental, etc.).  Because of that, they tend to have more specialized situations and questions about repaying their loans. By giving them extensive exit counseling, we're able to concentrate on the areas that seem to be the greatest concern for each individual.

We're also able to spend a great deal of time with students individually counsel them about financial aid or areas that might be considered for professional judgment. We want to make sure they're being helped in the best possible way while following the guidelines set out by the U.S. Department of Education. This is especially true of 'cost of attendance' increases.

What makes you successful in your job?

Mendy says: In my role, I create financial aid budgets, ensure PeopleSoft is correctly set up and tested throughout the year, and maintain our office's website. I like to think that I'm a pretty good troubleshooter when it comes to federal regulations and PeopleSoft, which makes sure that our processing remains in compliance and runs as smoothly as possible.

OCAP's Online News staff thanks the OUHSC financial aid office staff for sharing their thoughts and experiences.

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Financial Aid

Program Integrity Rules Update

Each month, we provide information about a specific Final Rules topic. This month, we’ll continue the discussion with an explanation of the Program Integrity (PI) Rules that will go into effect on July 1, 2011; specifically, the topic of written agreements between colleges.

The PI Rules made three changes to responsibilities schools have when setting-up and disclosing written agreements. The PI Rules:

You can review our previous PI articles on our Program Integrity page.  In addition, NCHELP recently released training presentations for each issue that are available on their Program Integrity Training Modules page (external link). If you have questions about the final rules, contact our Policy Analyst, Matt McCreary, at 405.234.4296 or

What 100 People Learned at OASFAA’s Spring Training

OASFAA’s Spring Support Staff Training event brought together almost 100 financial aid staff for training and networking on March 31 in Norman.

“We’re really pleased with the turnout,” said OASFAA’s Training Committee Chair, Becky Garrett, who coordinated the event. “It was more than double the attendance we had last year!”

The event was hosted at the Moore-Norman Technology Center’s Franklin Road Campus, where staff attended four one-hour sessions throughout the day:

Dear Colleague Letters

Since our last Online News in March, the Department of Education has released several Dear Colleague Letters to provide guidance for financial aid staff.

Common Manual Update

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

More Financial Aid News

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Scholarships and Other Aid Opportunities

Graduation CapThe Jimmie L. Dean Scholarship Foundation (external link)  offers scholarships up to $10,000 to Oklahoma residents who plan to attend one of several colleges, universities or technical schools in Oklahoma. Find out more about this award and others on our Scholarship Opportunities page.

If you know of scholarship opportunities we can promote in the Oklahoma financial aid community, please contact us at

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Financial Literacy

Jump$tart Your Money Week

Jumpstart Your Money WeekApril 23–29 is Jump$tart Your Money (JYM) Week, a statewide, coordinated effort of the Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition and its members - including our financial education program Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) - to raise awareness of personal financial literacy issues in our state.

In its seventh year, JYM Week provides an opportunity for Oklahomans to connect with local service providers to locate resources and educational opportunities. Sample community activities have included a ‘lunch and learn’ about a company’s retirement savings program, an informational session about identity theft provided by a police department, and a basic banking session for new immigrants sponsored by a community service agency, plus many more.

Most events are free or low cost, and information is available on the Coalition’s website, (external link). A special insert in The Oklahoman will run on Wednesday, April 20, and will include helpful articles and a list of JYM Week activities.

To learn more about OKMM and our plans to celebrate JYM Week, follow us on Twitter (@OKMoneyMatters (external link)).

Be Debt Free: Step-by-Step Instructions

Man catching a giant ball of moneyHave you heard about the debt snowball? The debt snowball is a highly effective way to quickly pay off debt and gain momentum toward a healthy financial lifestyle. Before creating your own snowball, there are three important things you should know.

Okay, let’s get started.

The first thing you’re going to do is pull out all your statements and files to locate every account which has a balance. Don’t worry about your mortgage, yet. Focus on credit cards, medical bills, car payments or student loans.

Make a list which includes the creditor’s name, account balance and minimum payment due for all debts. Organize your debt from smallest to largest. Your list may look something like this.

Account Balance
Minimum Payment Due
Target $450 $25
Chase $1,200 $100
Bank (Auto Loan) $9,500 $375

Now, using the extra money you identified—$200, in this example—increase the minimum payment on your lowest debt. Remember, continue to make the minimum payment on all other debt! Here’s what that looks like.

Account Balance
Payment Due
New Minimum Payment
Target $450 $25 $25 + $200 = $225
Chase $1,200 $100 —N/A—
Bank (Auto Loan) $9,500 $375 —N/A—

So, the first month of your debt snowball you’ll pay Target $225, Chase $100 and your bank $375. After only two months, the Target card will be paid off! How exciting! What do you do next?

With your first debt eliminated, you’ll take the monthly amount you paid on it and add it to the minimum payment of your next lowest debt.

Account Balance
Payment Due
New Minimum Payment
Chase $1,200 $100 $100 + $225 = $325
Bank (Auto Loan) $9,500 $375 —N/A—

So, now you’re paying $325 to Chase. Why $325? Well, your minimum payment is $100 and since the Target account is paid off, you’re going to take the monthly amount you were paying them ($225) and add it to your minimum payment for Chase. Continue to make your minimum payment of $375 to your bank for your auto loan.

As you can see, by paying $325 each month, the Chase account will be eliminated in just a few months, assuming you’ve stopped charging expenses to the account. Once that debt is paid, take the monthly amount paid and add it to your next debt—the auto loan.

Account Balance
Payment Due
New Minimum Payment
Bank (Auto Loan) $9,500 $375 $375 + $325 = $700

Now your new car payment is $700, so you’re paying almost double what you previously were! Do you see how you’re able to snowball your payments and eliminate your debt all by finding an extra $200?

Do you work with students or adults who could benefit from the debt snowball concept? Download our step-by-step debt snowball instructions (PDF) today.

If you've tried or are trying the debt snowball, drop us an e-mail at and let us know what you think about the method!

Help High School Students Manage Money Like a Pro

Student putting money in a piggy bank with classmates blurred out behind herWorking with high school students? Download OKMM’s Your Money Matters activities (external link)  to teach them about budgeting, credit, identity theft and saving.

These four activities are designed to be used in conjunction with our Your Money Matters guide, a free booklet of information, tools and resources designed specifically to address the money-related issues teens face.

If you’re a high school educator, we encourage you to print these lesson plans, request classroom copies of the Your Money Matters guide and use them with your students during Jump$tart Your Money (JYM) Week. JYM Week, April 23–29, is a statewide, coordinated effort of the Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition (external link)  to build personal finance skills and raise awareness of financial education issues in Oklahoma.

If you’re a financial literacy service provider, please share these resources with constituents or colleagues who may find the information useful.

Contact us at 800.970.OKMM or to request copies of our Your Money Matters guides for use in your classroom or community outreach activities.

Don’t wait; quantities are limited!

More Financial Literacy News

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Student Loan Management

Report Shares the Untold Story of Student Loan BorrowingCover of the IHEP report

A study recently released by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) shows that a majority of borrowers at least delay some loan payments and a full quarter (26%) actually go into delinquency on their debt at some point during their first five years of repayment. Read the full report about student loan delinquency (PDF) on the IHEP website.

Net-Price Calculators Help Prospective College Students

According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, this fall every college that receives federal financial aid will have to post a net-price calculator on its website to help prospective students estimate what attending the college would cost them after grant aid is applied.

To explore how net-price calculators can best serve the needs of prospective college students and their families, the Institute for College Access and Success presented a report on 16 colleges that had already posted calculators on their websites by January 2011. View the full net-price calculator report (PDF) to read more about the variations among the calculators and how easy they are for prospective college students and their families to find, use and understand.

More Student Loan Management News

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