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

Present Yourself Professionally Online

First impressions can be formed within seconds of an introduction. When our first encounter is on the Web, through social media or other networking sites, we lose a great deal of the personal interaction that helps us form opinions of our peers. Safeguarding and maintaining your image online will help ensure you're putting your best foot forward in a professional capacity from the start. Use the following tips to ensure you're as polished online as you are in person.

Plan Your Profiles

Social media can play a huge role in your professional image. Determine which social media platforms you'd like to use professionally, like LinkedIn or Twitter, and set up your profiles accordingly. Remember to monitor your online presence regularly, including your personal social media accounts; linked posts from peers include content you can't control. Most social media sites have customizable filters and privacy settings that can help you protect yourself and your image. Privacy settings are not foolproof, however, so be aware that anything you post – or that someone you're connected to posts - has the potential to become public. It's best to do all you can to maintain a professional image in all of your social media accounts.

Pose for a Portrait

Professional business portraits can be an important tool to introduce yourself to potential employers, clients, partners or students. You may be asked for your photo in many professional situations, including conference materials, industry interviews or online profiles. Suit up and find a photographer who will take a quality headshot for a reasonable price. This is a great opportunity to put your best-dressed foot forward, so remember to post the photo on your social media profiles.

Perfect Your Bio

Your professional biography is another essential piece of your reputation toolbox. According to, a well-written bio can serve a variety of purposes. Most experts say you should write two or three different biographies ranging from 100 to 250 words. Your biography will serve as a shortened version of your resume, informing readers of your professional background. You'll want to include your education, years of experience and any major accomplishments. Keep it brief and stick to facts that are professionally relevant; while it's acceptable to portray your personality through your writing style, your professional peers are more likely to be interested in your credentials than your personal life or hobbies. Be sure to include highlights from your bio on your social media profiles.

Register Today for OCAP and GEAR UP's Annual Conference: Access360


Registration is now open for Access360: Allies in Higher Education, Sept. 23-24 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman. The conference includes two full days of quality sessions designed to help strengthen your service to students, parents and your community.

We'll begin with a focus on college access and financial literacy. The first day includes sessions about finding scholarships, reaching Hispanic students and parents, disaster-proofing your finances and FAFSA basics. We also have a full session block available for GEAR UP grant recipients.

Day two will focus on financial aid and financial literacy. Sessions include Oklahoma's Promise, working with homeless youth, veterans' issues in financial aid, social media in higher education, financial literacy for low-resourced college students and much more.

The conference rate for hotel accommodations is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so complete your registration and book your hotel room(s) early. Call the Embassy Suites at 405.364.8040 and ask for Sandy to reserve your room. Be sure to mention that you're booking rooms for the Access360 conference.

There's something for everyone on both days of this exciting event. To learn more about the conference, visit us at and follow us on Twitter (@OKAccess360) for up-to-the-minute conference updates.

Constitution and Citizenship Day

Looking for ideas to acknowledge Constitution and Citizenship Day at your school? Remember, all educational institutions that receive federal funds are required to provide an instructional program about the U.S. Constitution each year on Sept. 17.

Check out these free resources to start planning your Constitution and Citizenship day program.

We also encourage you to check out ConstitutionChallenge.Com, which features a game that allows students, departments and schools to challenge each other and compete with other schools to determine the school with the most knowledge of our Constitution. Learn more about Constitution and Citizenship Day regulations in the Federal Register and look for notices from the U.S. Department of Education regarding specific participation requirements.

Featured Tool

Featured Tool: NASFAA CORE Training for Oklahoma

OCAP is happy to announce that we've acquired NASFAA CORE training materials and will be offering training sessions throughout the year for Oklahoma's financial aid professionals. CORE is a comprehensive set of instructional materials for teaching financial aid fundamentals to individuals with less than two years' experience.

The courses are also great refreshers for more seasoned professionals. Some of these CORE classes are eligible for NASFAA Professional Credentials, which require you to pass a test once the course is complete. These credentials will allow you to earn recognition for your mastery of the course content. Employers can feel confident that staff members who earn credentials are trained to the highest industry standards.

Watch for future OCAP notices regarding upcoming training sessions. For more information, contact Scott DeBoard at 405.234.4233, 877.688.4357 (toll free) or

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Who's Who

Do You Know Joyce Montgomery?

Meet Joyce, Service-Learning Volunteer Center Coordinator for Oklahoma State University and OK-CAN's current Highlighted Member. Montgomery

What age groups does the OSU Service-Learning Volunteer Center serve?

While the volunteer center works primarily with traditional college students from enrollment through graduation, it has also worked with other units for practically every age range, from older childhood through adult learners who are entering or re-entering college.

What are the OSU Service-Learning Volunteer Center's primary areas of focus?

The objective of the center is to encourage engagement, involvement, networking and financial literacy.

What are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?

Some of the challenges I encounter in the college access field are funding, finding informational materials and publications, generating interest in participation and arranging transportation to college access events. In spite of these challenges, the center has seen an increased number of high school students asking about engagement practices and service-learning opportunities, which is a huge measure of its success. I can always see room for improvement, though, so I'm looking forward to networking with fellow OK-CAN members to help smooth out some of the difficulties I face.

Where can we learn more about the OSU Service-Learning Volunteer Center?

To learn more about the OSU Service-Learning Volunteer Center and the services it provides or to request a copy of our brochure, contact me at 405.744.5145 or To learn about our volunteer programs, visit

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College Planning

Prepare for the Fairs

College fairs can be overwhelming for any student. Large campuses, hundreds of students seeking information and dozens of questions to ask - there's simply a lot to take in. Helping your students prepare in advance can make a huge difference in their college fair experience.

There's plenty you can do to help your students make the most of college fairs, and UCanGo2 is here to help. We've developed materials to successfully guide students through the college fair process with confidence. Armed with these tips and tools, you can provide your students with information about what to do before, during and after a college fair.


  1. Explain to your students that a college fair is a gathering of college representatives from various schools and organizations. Emphasize that this it is a great opportunity to ask questions and collect information about potential schools and programs.
  2. Download and print copies of UCanGo2's College Fair Worksheet to help students decide what types of colleges they're interested in attending. Focusing on these schools can make the students' time at the college fair more productive.
  3. Guide students to UCanGo2's List of 2013 College Fairs and have them note the dates, times and locations of the fairs that interest them most.
  4. Help your students develop a game plan and a list of questions to ask college representatives. Creating a list beforehand helps students stay on track during the event. Focus on questions that pertain to things that are important to the students' interests, major, needs and lifestyle while in school. Use UCanGo2's College Fair Worksheet to get started.
  5. Get parents involved by inviting them to attend the fairs.


  1. Coach your students on how to look, act and speak professionally to the college representatives. Encourage students to be assertive, yet respectful. Students who smile, make eye contact, have a firm handshake and show serious interest in a school make lasting impressions on college representatives.
  2. Remind students to get the names and contact information of each representative they meet. They should also take notes and write down the answers to the questions asked.
  3. If time allows, students should stop and talk with other schools that aren't on their list. It's good practice for the students, and they may discover a college that is a perfect place for them.


  1. Show your students how to organize the information they've collected from the fair. Instruct them to record notes and comments while the events are still fresh on their minds.
  2. Encourage students to follow up and learn more about schools that interest them; start with campus websites and other online research. Help students identify their top picks and schedule campus visits.
  3. Within a day or two of the event, ask students to send a thank-you note to each representative they talked to and as applicable, confirm their interest in the campus. Notes should be polite, professional and short.

UCanGo2 offers a wide variety of resources and tools, including a list of College Fair Best Practices for counselors, to help you put college planning information into the hands of students. Visit for a complete list of publications. OCAP's outreach team will have a booth at most college fairs this year, so encourage your students to stop by the OCAP table for free materials.

See you at the fairs!

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Financial Aid

Ask the Expert: Appealing PLUS Loan Credit Denial

In an effort to reduce defaulted loans, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) tightened the underwriting criteria for PLUS loans in October 2011, significantly increasing the incidence of credit denials.

PLUS loans are federally-insured education loans available to graduate students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. These loans are often used to bridge the gap between the amount the student receives in Stafford loans and other aid and the amount needed to cover tuition, fees, books and living expenses while enrolled.

While no credit check is required for a Stafford student loan, the maximum loan amounts are relatively low in comparison to the typical cost of attending school. A PLUS loan may be approved up to the full amount of the cost of attendance (less any other aid received), but a PLUS loan will not be approved if the applicant has "adverse credit."

Under the old criteria, an applicant was deemed to have adverse credit if the credit report showed:

Since October 2011, in addition to the criteria outlined above, the applicant is deemed to have adverse credit if the credit report shows any account (open or closed) listed as an unpaid charge off/write off or as an unpaid collection with a balance greater than zero in the five years prior to the credit check. These more stringent requirements have disqualified many PLUS applicants, resulting in a significant decline in enrollment at numerous institutions due to students' inability to cover the cost of attendance following a PLUS credit denial.

In April of this year, ED began contacting certain applicants who had been denied a PLUS loan because of an adverse credit history, who ED believes are likely to be approved if they request reconsideration of the initial denial. If such an applicant contacts the Student Loan Support Center to request reconsideration, the reconsideration process can typically be completed in just a few minutes, and most of the targeted applicants are subsequently approved for PLUS loans. As of June 30, 2013, the Common Origination and Disbursement (COD) system creates a weekly report to a school's COD Reporting Newsbox identifying applicants who are eligible for reconsideration, and a Credit Check Reconsideration Eligibility flag is included on the COD website.

Other applicants who have been denied a PLUS loan due to adverse credit, but are not identified by ED as eligible for reconsideration, may still appeal the denial if:

A job loss or period(s) of economic hardship are generally not considered to be "extenuating circumstances." Applicants may obtain information about extenuating circumstances and the documentation required for an appeal at, or may contact the Student Loan Support Center at 1.800.557.7394 for information on the appeal process.

If the applicant does not appeal the credit denial, or is unsuccessful in the appeal, a PLUS loan may also be approved if the applicant obtains an endorser who does not have an adverse credit history.

Student Loan Interest Rates

The House of Representatives recently approved HR 1911, altering the interest rates for all Interest Ratesfederal student loans first disbursed after July 1, 2013. The bill now awaits the President's signature.

Under the terms of HR 1911, interest rates would be adjusted every July 1, based on the 10-year Treasury Note rate, with a cap to protect borrowers from rising interest rates. The new rates will be effective for new loans made between July 1 and June 30 of each fiscal year, and will be fixed for the life of the loan. Once enacted, these rates will be applied retroactively to loans that have been disbursed since July 1, 2013.

More information about additional July 1 student loan and subsidy changes can be found at OCAP will continue to keep you informed of any changes to pending interest rate legislation.

Direct Loan Servicing Center (ACS) Contract Ends

On Jan. 10, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that, due to the forthcoming expiration of ED's contract with ACS (now Xerox), federally-owned Direct and FFEL student loans then serviced by ACS would be transferred to other federal servicers between January and August 2013.

In an electronic announcement released July 12, ED provided additional details regarding the transfer of functions performed by ACS, including anticipated transition dates for TEACH grant servicing (July 22-25, 2013) and Civil Legal Assistance Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program management (August 12, 2013). Transition dates are being finalized for Perkins loan servicing, and management of both the Direct Consolidation Loan system and the debt management and collections system.

ED also announced that, beginning August 5, all new Direct consolidation loans will be immediately assigned to Nelnet, PHEAA or Sallie Mae for servicing.

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 Cap

Calling all ninjas! Poetry ninjas, that is. is offering a $1,000 scholarship or a Kindle Fire for the best 17 syllables as part of the Haiku Ninja Facebook Scholarship. To enter, "like" on Facebook and post a haiku about on their wall. You may post one haiku per day until Aug. 18. Click here to learn more.

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Financial Literacy

Top 10 Back to School Identity Theft Prevention Tips

It's a new school year and many of us are busy getting back into the swing of things. It's not uncommon during this busy time to inadvertently lower our guard against personal identity theft.

Identity theft is increasing each year, affecting new and younger victims. According to a recent study, children as young as 5 years old are victims of identity theft. Try these tips to protect your identity and share them to help your students protect themselves, too.

  1. Never carry an item that contains personal information unless you plan to use it and quickly put it back in a safe storage place. This includes Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc. Too often, these items can be stolen or lost and they're very hard to replace. Consider storing them in an in-home fire and waterproof safety lock box or in a security box at a bank.
  2. Know which school departments have access to your personal information. While there are state and federal regulations for schools to guard personal identifiable information (PII), knowing your rights regarding how and why it's used will help you keep anyone from using your personal information illegally.
  3. Be cautious at non-school organizations and businesses. Youth organizations, daycares, medical offices and other places of business may not have safeguards to protect personal information. Be mindful of places where your information might be heard or viewed, such as the doctor's office waiting room or on a clipboard passed around at a youth sports game. If you're in a place where people may read or overhear your family's information, don't be afraid to ask for a more private arrangement to keep others from seeing or hearing.
  4. Limit junk mail offers. Many businesses will check to see if you're eligible for credit cards, loans, insurance or other services. If you notice you're receiving a lot of direct mail or phone calls regarding your eligibility, you may request to opt-out of the prescreening process. For more information, go to or call 1.800.567.8688. To opt out of other direct marketing lists, visit the Direct Marketing Association opt out website at
  5. Guard your information on social media sites. Displaying personal information such as birthdate, address, phone number and family member names gives identity thieves potential answers to your personalized online security questions. It's best to keep this information as minimal as possible and request that your creditor or business choose other questions to verify your identity.
  6. Shred or destroy unnecessary documents. Identity thieves' techniques are increasingly more sophisticated; they can use nearly any aspect of personal identification (e.g. birthdate, name, address, credit card number, bank account number) against someone to commit fraud. If you don't need to store these documents for future use, destroy them by using a six-blade cross cut shredder or find a business that provides professional document shredding at little to no cost.
  7. Check your credit report on a yearly basis. With a valid Social Security number, you can obtain your free credit report once each year from the three top credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) at This allows you to see if your report is correct. If it isn't, you'll need to dispute the errors.
  8. Limit access to your electronic devices. Sharing laptops or tablets, allowing others to borrow your smartphone or otherwise granting access to devices that house your personal information leaves you vulnerable to theft. Protect devices with password requirements, a security app or a code lock.
  9. Be password savvy. Passwords are like bubble gum: best when fresh. Update them often on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and accounts, and choose a password that's hard to guess.
  10. Understand your rights. For information on immediate steps you can take in response to identity theft, go to the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft website or call 1.877.IDTHEFT (438.4338).

For more information about guarding against identity theft, visit OKMM's webpage on consumer identity theft prevention.

Budget Friendly Grilling Tips


Light your soy-based citronella candles and don your "kiss the cook" apron; it's grilling time! Summer grilling is a healthy and delicious way to feed your family and spend time with friends. Check out our budget friendly grilling tips to keep your table and wallet full all summer long.

  1. Start smart. If you don't already have a grill, do a little research before you go shopping. Consider how many mouths you'll be feeding when choosing the size of your grill. Too much grill is a waste of money, and likewise, a grill that's too small will waste time and fuel. Be honest with yourself about the extra bells and whistles; will you really use that rotisserie rack or smoker attachment? Along with your grill, you'll need two basic tools – tongs for flipping your food without losing flavorful juices and a meat thermometer to make sure your food has reached a safe temperature.
  2. Shop Savvy. Now that you have your grill, you're ready to head to the grocery store. Check with your butcher for cuts of meat that are on sale. Chicken legs and thighs are cheaper and more flavorful than boneless chicken breasts and work great on the grill. If you're looking for a crowd pleaser, you can't beat hamburgers and hotdogs for both price and popularity. Also, remember your sides; grilled veggies and fruit are a healthy and tasty alternative to chips.
  3. Focus on flavor. Store-bought spice rubs, marinades and sauces are a great way to boost flavor, but they can be pricey; consider making your own. Look online for interesting recipes that incorporate ingredients you already have on hand, like pantry spices or ketchup. Check out this simple All-Purpose Steak Rub to get started.
  4. Conserve fuel. Make sure you're not using too much charcoal (the whole 10 lb. bag!) or propane by cooking over a lower flame for a longer period of time. Check your grill's user manual or head online for guidelines. Another way to conserve fuel is by grilling extra food for a second meal.
  5. Baby your barbecue. Just like your car, proper maintenance and upkeep will add years to life of your grill, allowing you to get more from your investment. Cleaning your grill, oiling your grate before and after each use, and disposing of ashes once they've cooled will help keep your grill in tip-top shape for years of backyard barbecuing.

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Student Loan Management

NSLDS Cards Are Now Available

NSLDS CardReady Set Repay, OCAP's student loan management initiative, is always looking for new ways to assist our financial aid partners in your efforts to provide students the information they need to successfully manage their student loan debt. Our Default Prevention Expert Group, which includes several members of the Oklahoma financial aid community, asked us to develop a business card to promote the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). We heard you, and we delivered!

The NSLDS business card outlines six simple steps to help students successfully access, along with space for students to record contact information for their loan servicer(s) and your financial aid office. The best part is, they can keep the card in their wallet, so it's always readily available!

For a supply of NSLDS business cards, contact Kerry Mucker at (quantities limited).

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