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

Ask the expert: My students haven’t submitted the FAFSA; is it too late?

Your students and their parents may be asking you, “What if we didn’t get our FAFSA filed before March 1? Is it too late to submit it now?” The answer is a resounding “no” – it’s not too late. There’s still time for students to submit the FAFSA for the coming 2013-14 academic year.

Remind your students and their parents to be aware of both campus deadlines for FAFSA submission and other financial aid deadlines impacted by the FAFSA. The Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG), for example, requires information from each applicant’s FAFSA to determine eligibility. While OTAG’s deadline was March 1, students may submit the FAFSA anytime throughout the academic year. Students should also keep in mind that some sources of financial aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s best to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1 each year. Most federal aid is available to qualifying students throughout the year.

According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), 90 percent of high school students in Oklahoma who complete the FAFSA will begin college within the next 12 months. Your role in encouraging students to complete and submit the FAFSA is crucial. For more information about FAFSA completion rates in Oklahoma, check out ED’s FAFSA completion data tool.

Need help spreading the word about FAFSA completion? Visit our FAFSA Page for Counselors. We offer a variety of tools and publications to help students and parents navigate the FAFSA process. Check out our new FAFSA completion tutorials and commercial spots (available in English and Spanish) and our helpful publications, such as Finish the FAFSA in 5 Steps and our FAFSA Toolkit for Counselors.

Solve Financial Aid Mysteries at the 2013 OASFAA Spring Conference

OASFAA Spring Conference 2013

Financial aid partners, are you looking for clues to uncover the many mysteries in your field of work? If so, join your colleagues at the Oklahoma Association of Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA) annual conference, April 17-19 at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center. Speakers include National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) President Justin Draeger and Kevin Campbell from the U.S. Department of Education.

OCAP is scheduled to present three sessions at this year’s conference. The first, Regulations and Research, led by Mary Heid, OCAP’s Director of Default Prevention, Compliance and Training Services, will focus on methods and sources for researching federal regulations. The discussion will include information about determining the hierarchy of source material among the various types of federal resources.

Oklahoma Money Matters’ (OKMM) Melissa Neal will conduct the second session, which will focus on short, meaningful personal finance messages that financial aid administrators can work into everyday interactions with students. OKMM is OCAP’s financial literacy initiative.

OCAP’s final session will provide training for financial aid administrators on making calls to delinquent student loan borrowers. With the introduction of three-year cohort default rates, many schools are incorporating personal phone calls to delinquent borrowers into their default aversion activities. For many institutions, this is an unfamiliar activity. OCAP provides scripts and training geared toward students in different stages of delinquency and default. Wayne Sparks, OCAP’s Default Prevention Manager, and Scott DeBoard, an OCAP Training Specialist, will lead this session.

In addition to great presentations and loads of helpful information, the conference will include a Mystery Dinner Theatre event on Thursday, April 18. More details about this year’s conference, including registration and hotel information, can be found at

Freshman Orientation Workshops

What happens when you combine college freshmen, financial literacy education and fun? You get an entertaining and educational workshop created by Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM)! Our freshman orientation workshops help students learn to sensibly manage their money early in their college career. We teach tips and tricks for living on a college budget, saving and spending, credit monitoring and borrowing wisely to pay for school. During our workshops, freshmen learn how to handle their finances successfully while focusing on important aspects of college life, like staying on course for graduation and managing debt (and friends and pizza).

OKMM provides presentations, materials and consultations to help campuses fit personal finance education into existing orientation programs. For those who prefer to teach their own sessions, we offer train-the-trainer workshops for campus staff and student leaders.

To learn more about OKMM services or schedule a workshop, contact us at 800.970.OKMM (toll free) or

Summer Fun for Kids

Your kids may be ready to roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, but what about you? Check out these ideas for keeping your kids busy (and we don’t mean busy beating level 32 of their favorite video game) without breaking the bank.

Turn off the television and turn up the creativity. Have your kids put on a play. Dust off those old board games. Create a “reading nook” with sheets and pillows. Keep coloring, writing and craft supplies handy. Let the kids pick out a fun recipe on Pinterest and help you make the dish. Encourage them to learn how to do something new with the help of YouTube, like knitting or playing the guitar. We know it’s inevitable, so if they’re going to play video games anyway, make sure they have some options that will get them moving (dancing, exercise, etc.) or thinking (like puzzle or strategy games).

Kick them out – outside, that is. Send your kids on a nature scavenger hunt in the backyard. Invest in some sidewalk chalk, a jump rope or a hula-hoop and turn on the sprinklers to beat the heat. Have your kids make a garden to plant and tend themselves. Let them have a picnic on the back porch or incorporate some chores by having them walk the dog or wash the car. While they’re outside burning energy and absorbing vitamin D, don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly!

Take advantage of summer in the city. See what summer activities are happening in your community. Zoos, museums, theaters, activity centers and more often offer kid-friendly activities in the summer and may have special pricing to boot. Get a pass for the local pool or bowling alley. Many movie theaters show children’s movies at discounted prices during the summer. Play at the park. Encourage the kids to join the library’s summer reading program. Use this time to teach your kids about giving back by volunteering at a nursing home or the local animal shelter.

Set up camp. Summer camp is a traditional rite of passage for many kids. You’ll want to do some research to find the right camp to suit your child and your pocketbook. There are camps that focus on sports, art, music, animals, science and cooking, among numerous other options. You’ll also want to think about your child’s level of independence. Is s/he ready to spend the night away from home for a week or would a day camp be a better fit? You may even want to ease into camp by enrolling your child in a one-day class. Older children may also consider serving as a camp counselor; this can be a great opportunity to volunteer.

For more ideas, check out our Summer Academies article in this newsletter and the MetroFamily Magazine Summer Camps and Activities Directory. With a little creativity and research, this can be a summer to remember.

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Featured Tool

Coming Soon: Federal Loan Counseling Toolkit

Borrow Smart

If your school is interested in conducting in-person entrance and exit counseling, OCAP can help! Our Ready Set Repay team is developing a Federal Direct Loan Counseling Toolkit to help Oklahoma’s financial aid administrators meet regulatory requirements for entrance and exit counseling.

Among other materials, this toolkit will include:

Stay tuned for more information about this useful new product. Toolkits will be available to order at the upcoming 2013 OASFAA Spring Conference. For more information about OCAP’s wide selection of debt management and default prevention tools for students and schools, visit

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Who's Who

Do you know Amy Welch?

Meet Amy, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA). Garrett

Tell us about OSCPA and the unique services it provides.

OSCPA is the only statewide professional organization for Oklahoma CPAs. Formed in 1918, it unites more than 6,000 CPAs in public practice, private industry, government and education. We offer free CPA referrals, consultations, financial calculators, money tips, guest speakers and more at Our members are actively engaged in financial education in communities across Oklahoma, which includes distribution of our annual Financial Fitness Kit during Jump$tart Your Money (JYM) Week in April. Look for those from your CPA or pick one up in a local library beginning April 20.

What should Oklahomans know about working with a tax professional?

Your taxes are official government documents and, as such, should be treated with great caution. We hear horror stories of people going to one of those stores that pop up in January and close their doors after the April filing deadline. That preparer may offer a guarantee, but how exactly can it be enforced if you’re unable to locate the preparer after the filing deadline? Be careful. Do your research. There’s lots of free help available to those who need it (check with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to find a VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – site near you.) If you’ve experienced life changes like having a baby, getting married or losing a spouse, consider paying a little more to get expert advice. If you choose a CPA, you can rest assured that your tax preparer has had extensive formal education, passed a rigorous business exam, is licensed by the Oklahoma Accountancy Board and is required to maintain 40 hours, on average, per year of continuing education to keep up with the constantly changing tax laws and financial regulations. Additionally, a CPA is legally able to represent you and your interests with the Internal Revenue Service should a problem arise.

What’s the biggest tax time mistake people make?

They seem to be afraid to ask the difficult questions when selecting a preparer. We all want to be agreeable and it’s human nature to want to be liked – but don’t sacrifice something as important as your taxes to avoid antagonizing anyone. Don’t be afraid to ask the following questions:

-   What training qualifies you to be a tax preparer?
-   How much experience do you have?
-   What formal education have you had?
-   What kind of continuing education do you utilize to stay on top of tax laws?
-   Are you legally allowed to represent me and my interests with the Internal Revenue      Service, should it be necessary?
-   What fees should I expect to pay?

You may also want to find out if the preparer is in good standing with the Oklahoma Accountancy Board or if he or she is a member of a professional organization (like OSCPA) that requires it.

What’s the best thing consumers can do to prepare for working with a tax professional?

Be organized. Most CPAs who prepare taxes have checklists for their clients to help them get their paperwork in order. In general, the less work a preparer has to do, the less you’ll be charged. So get a checklist and organize your paperwork before turning it over to a preparer. Also, ask up front what you’ll be charged so there are no surprises later. Beware of anyone who charges a percentage of a return or who guarantees the largest return.

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College Planning

Spring College Fair for High School Students

As the spring semester winds down, your high school sophomores and juniors may be getting excited about upcoming milestones like graduation and going to college. As they move forward academically, it’s time to begin exploring their college options. A great opportunity to do just that is coming soon - the Great Plains Association for College Admission Counseling (GPACAC) College Fair will be held Thursday, April 11 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the University of Tulsa Reynolds Center. Representatives from more than 30 colleges, universities and technology centers will be on site to answer questions and provide information about degree programs and campus life. Students and parents can visit with representatives and gather information about admission requirements, scholarship opportunities, student activities and important deadlines. Encourage your students to take advantage of this opportunity, if possible; remember, you can download UCanGo2’s College Fair Worksheet to help students stay focused and make the most of their time at the fair.

View the University of Tulsa’s campus map to locate the Reynolds Center (#82). Free parking is available. For more information about the fair, contact Andrew Myers, Chair for College Fairs at

2013 Summer Academies

Are you looking for a fun way to get your students excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), keep them learning throughout the summer, and increase their odds of attending and graduating from college? Tell your students all about the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s FREE Summer Academies!

This year, 32 Summer Academies focusing on STEM subjects will be offered to 8th-12th grade students on college and university campuses across Oklahoma. Participating students will gain hands-on experience in cutting-edge career fields, including aeronautics, engineering, biotechnology, forensic science and more. Academies last from four days to two weeks; some even allow students to live on campus and get a taste of college life.

Summer Academies are designed to give students at all academic levels the opportunity to increase interest and confidence in STEM subjects, as well as expand their career and educational aspirations. More than 70 percent of the students who attend Summer Academies go directly to college after high school, and more than 80 percent go on to earn at least a bachelor's degree.

Remind your students and their parents that there's no cost to participate in the 2013 Summer Academies, but registration is required. Students must enroll now before the sessions fill up! For a complete list of 2013 Summer Academies and enrollment information, visit or call 1.800.858.1840 (toll free).

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Financial Aid

Challenging Cohort Default Rate Data

The Department of Education (ED) recently released the FY2011 2-year Draft Cohort Default Rates (CDR) and the FY2010 3-year Draft CDRs. Institutions now have an opportunity to challenge the draft CDR data using the electronic Cohort Default Rate Appeals (eCDRA) process.

Institutions can use the eCDRA process and the Incorrect Data Challenge guide to contest CDR data and are required to provide evidence to the data manager (the guarantor or ED servicer) regarding their removal from the cohort. To reduce the CDR, schools generally reduce the number of defaulted borrowers (the numerator in the CDR equation) or raise the total number of borrowers in the cohort (the denominator in the CDR equation).

Once a school has registered its challenges through the eCDRA process, eCDRA will route the challenges to the appropriate guarantor or ED servicer. That guarantor or servicer has a window of time to respond and request additional information. Once the guarantor or servicer responds, the school can request additional information from the guarantor or servicer. When all of the school’s issues have been addressed, ED will review and close the challenge.

Schools will not have a second opportunity to submit an incorrect data challenge when final rates are issued. They will only be able to challenge any new data that appears with the final rate that they believe is incorrect.

If you need assistance with the eCDRA process, please contact ED’s Default Prevention and Management hotline at 202.377.4259 or send an email to

Sequestration: Impacts on Title IV Student Financial Assistance

On August 2, 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. This act put into place an automatic process of federal budget cuts, known as a “sequester,” that went into effect when Congress failed to enact legislation to reduce the federal deficit. Some of the effects of the sequester were offset by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2013 through a combination of taxes on upper-income taxpayers, middle-class tax relief and modifications to the upcoming sequestration of spending. This moved the annual sequester date to March 1, 2013 and reduced the deficit reduction sequester from $109 billion to $85 billion. It also postponed the discretionary sequester until March 27, which coincides with the current 2013 Continuing Budget Resolution.

The Department of Education’s (ED) March 15 e-nnnouncement addresses the following Title IV student financial assistance programs:

What's New on IFAP?

Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs)




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

Graduation CapThe Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology seeks to promote excellence by encouraging students to undertake individual or team research projects that improve students' understanding of the value of scientific study and inform their consideration of future careers in these disciplines. Individual projects promote independent research, while team projects foster collaborative research efforts, as well as individual contributions to the cooperative endeavor.

Scholarships for winning projects range from $1,000 to $100,000. Registration for this year’s competition opens May 1.

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Financial Literacy

Jump$tart Personal Finance Education during Financial Literacy Month

In celebration of Financial Literacy Month, the Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (OJC) is hosting the ninth annual Jump$tart Your Money (JYM) Week, April 20-26. JYM Week is a statewide initiative to raise awareness of personal financial literacy issues, providing opportunities for schools, universities, community organizations and others concerned about the financial education skills of Oklahomans to plan and cooperatively market a wide range of educational events.

OJC encourages campuses and organizations to hold an event focused on personal finance during JYM Week. Consider these ideas to get started.

Even if your organization doesn’t traditionally provide money-related services, you can still participate. Consider partnering with a financial institution or service provider (such as OKMM, UCanGo2 and Ready Set Repay) to meet a need in your community. To see a list of available workshops and events, or to add your own, visit the event calendar at

JYM Week kicks off with MoneyMania, a communitywide, family-friendly money management event, on Apr. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the YWCA Oklahoma City’s McFarland branch, located at 1701 N. Martin Luther King Ave. This year, MoneyMania features carnival-style fun, free food, games, educational resources and so much more. Attendees will also have a chance to win prizes, including a free laptop. For more information about MoneyMania, contact Carla Fry at 405.948.1770.

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Student Loan Management

There’s Hope after Loan Default

If you work with borrowers who have defaulted on their federal student loans, you’ve seen some of the serious consequences of default, such as negative credit report ratings and Title IV aid ineligibility. Remind your borrowers that even though they’re in default, they still have options to move forward.

Loan rehabilitation is one option that can bring loans out of default, reinstate Title IV aid eligibility, and remove negative credit report ratings. To qualify for loan rehabilitation, borrowers must:

Borrowers may not:

Institutions that promote rehabilitation have an opportunity to lower their default rate. Borrowers who successfully rehabilitate loans prior to the end of the cohort period will not be counted in the numerator of a school’s cohort default rate.

It’s important to note that loan rehabilitation is only available to a borrower once. For more information about loan rehabilitation and other options to help the borrowers you serve get out of default, visit

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