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

Workplace Money Matters


Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) recently debuted a new workplace education initiative, Workplace Money Matters, to empower employers to provide important money management training for staff. Research shows many adults lack a basic understanding of financial principles, which leaves them feeling stressed and struggling to meet day-to-day living expenses. This stress often leads to health problems, job dissatisfaction and lower productivity in the workplace.

Workplace Money Matters is centered on our Your Money Matters guide for adults in the workplace and covers a broad range of topics, including basic budgeting, family financial planning, successful student loan repayment and much more. Like all OKMM services, our employee education service is free and entirely customizable; employers can choose training topics and decide when, where and how to present the lessons.

In addition to face-to-face sessions with an OKMM representative, we offer print materials, marketing assistance and a host of Web-based tools. Visit to find our online clearinghouse, Ask OKMM Q&A forum and interactive budgeting calculator, among other helpful resources.

To learn more about Workplace Money Matters and how OKMM can design a program to meet your employees' financial education needs, contact us at 405.234.4253, 800.970.OKMM (toll free) or

Make the Most of Summer Planning

With the school year coming to a close, many teachers, counselors and campus professionals will soon turn their attention to planning the coming year. Here are a few creativity and brainstorming tips to help you make the most of your summertime planning sessions.

Get inspired. Before you begin, find a source of inspiration. Check out other schools to see what programs and activities are successful for them. Take a new route to work or immerse yourself in a new experience so your mind is fresh and active. Ask your colleagues what they do to get motivated.

Relax. Find a quiet place to let your mind wander. Shut down your email, turn off your phone and minimize any other distractions. Studies show a relaxed environment can help you maximize a brainstorming session.

Set goals. The best ideas come from establishing a clear problem to solve or goal to achieve. Spend some time thinking about the challenges you face and objectives you want to accomplish. Outlining your goals will help you clarify the steps necessary to achieve them.

Mind map. Develop a visual tool such as a mind map or a brainstorming diagram that allows you to visualize your train of thought. This will give you the flexibility to veer off in a new direction while keeping track of your entire thought process.

No judgment. Whether you're brainstorming alone or in a group, remember there are no bad ideas. Remove yourself from any thoughts of budget constraints, student or faculty buy-in or available personnel. You can apply those filters to your best ideas once you've gathered them. However, at the brainstorming stage, you never know where a new idea might lead you, so don't nix anything just yet.

Access360: A New Direction for OCAP's Annual Conference


Promoting student success in higher education requires effort from all players in the academic realm. Middle and high school counselors, student services professionals, financial aid administrators, community partners — everyone has a stake in making sure Oklahoma's students get to college, complete their academic program, pay for their education and succeed financially as adults.

This year, OCAP and GEAR UP are proud to bring you a new name and expanded format for the annual fall conference, Access360. Our one-of-a-kind conference is known for bringing Oklahoma's broad spectrum of higher education partners to the table to discuss relevant issues and promote student success.

Student success covers a wide range of topics, including college access, financial aid, financial literacy and student loan management. With so much important ground to cover, Access360 will include an additional day, making it a full two-day conference, so we can bring you more speakers and expand our informative discussions on significant topics.

We understand that your travel budgets are limited. You'll have the option to attend one or both conference days and we'll do our best to categorize our daily sessions to help you reduce costs without compromising your conference experience. We're also moving to a larger facility this year to house our growing audience comfortably and provide affordable overnight accommodations for those traveling long distances.

Stay tuned for more Access360 updates and watch for our call for sessions, coming soon.

We look forward to seeing you there this fall!

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Featured Tool

Default Prevention Flyers

Ready Set Repay, OCAP's student loan management initiative, offers tools to help your school strengthen default prevention efforts! Insert or attach our default prevention flyers to enhance your letter and email campaigns with important repayment messages.

Flyers available for your use with students include:

Visit to view, download or order printed copies as available (quantities are limited).

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Who's Who

Do you know Karan Madera?

Meet Karan, seventh grade counselor at Sapulpa Middle School. Madera

What led you to become a middle school counselor?

My interest in education stems from my family's educational and teaching background. My father, mother, brother and sister were all teachers. I also have a host of aunts, uncles and cousins who are in the education field. I've always had the benefit of working with super people and my principals have always encouraged me to get in there and do what I do best!

I began teaching as soon as I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1974. Then I received my Masters in Guidance Counseling in 1978. I retired from Sapulpa Middle School in 2006 and then came back as the counselor in 2009.

What are some of your duties as counselor?

Some of my duties include individual and group counseling, participation in parent/teacher conferences and attending Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. I schedule students and assist them with make-up work, facilitate the Giving Tree program, and serve as the adviser for the Sapulpa Middle School National Junior Honor Society. I also teach Saturday school and I do homebound tutoring. Until this year, I was also the coordinator for the Safe and Healthy School committee, which included all of the Red Ribbon Week events. I helped bring Rachel's Challenge to our middle school students and was able to offer it to our outlying seventh grade friends, and I'm the GEAR UP coordinator for the seventh grade.

What are some of the challenges you face as a counselor?

We have a total of about 580 sixth and seventh grade students. Most of my initial problems stem from transitioning students from elementary school to middle school, but the toughest issue is trying to inspire unmotivated students.

What do you like most about your job?

Mostly I like visiting with the students. I approach it more like a visit than counseling. I also like conducting small group counseling sessions with kids who have common problems. I also love, love, love December when I organize the Giving Tree program for our school. My students and I work to find resources for families that need food, eye glasses, clothing or maybe just some help with holiday extras. I truly enjoy working with everyone to make wishes come true at Christmastime.

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College Planning

Summer Tips for College Bound Students

Believe it or not, college is just around the corner for many of your students. While they're engrossed in making summer plans and daydreaming of freedom, now is not the time for them to drop the ball on preparing for college.

Here are some timely tips you'll want to share with your students to help them make the most of their summer and stay on track for college.


Get Organized

Take Action


Get Prepared

Take Action

Visit the counselor's page at for more information about helping students plan, prepare and pay for college.

Oklahoma's Promise: Applications Due Soon!

Oklahoma's Promise is a state-funded scholarship program available to students who meet certain income, state residency and academic requirements. Students who meet these requirements must apply for the scholarship in the eighth, ninth or 10th grade (homeschool students must be age 13, 14 or 15).

This year's application deadline for sophomores is July 1, 2013. Remind sophomores that this is their last chance to apply and that the deadline is quickly approaching. Reinforce the fact that this scholarship will pay the cost of full tuition at a public (state) college in Oklahoma, or partial tuition at a private institution or approved technology center program in our state.

Please help your sophomores realize the importance of meeting this deadline. Even if they meet every other qualification for this scholarship, they'll miss the opportunity for free tuition dollars if they don't apply on time.

Visit to learn more about Oklahoma's Promise eligibility requirements and the application process.

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Financial Aid

ED Announces Intent to Establish Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

Federal Register Volume 78, Number 73, was issued April 16 and contained information regarding the Department of Education's (ED) intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee and conduct public hearings. Written comments suggesting additional topics must be received on or before May 30 to be considered. The address to submit comments is contained in the Federal Register.

Topics ED announced for consideration by the committee include:

Visit ED's website for more information about the public hearing.

OASFAA Conference Recap


Almost 200 financial aid administrators gathered in Tulsa for the 2013 OASFAA Conference: Clues to Solving the Mysteries of Financial Aid.

Program Committee Chair Nancy Vollertsen and her team provided a program that was useful for all attendees. Presenters from the U.S. Department of Education, National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP), as well as loan servicer representatives and financial aid officers from across the state, held sessions on a wide range of topics. There was something for everyone, including sessions about financial aid basics, verifications and managing Cohort Default Rates. As photos from the conference clearly show, participants were engaged and enjoyed the sessions and the fellowship.

OASFAA is a volunteer driven organization. Contact Becky Garrett at if you're interested in helping plan next year's conference, April 23-25 in Midwest City, or if you'd like to work with the organization in other ways.

Remember, there will be another great conference opportunity this fall when OCAP hosts its annual conference. Session topics will include college access, financial education, default prevention, financial aid and more. If you work in higher education, there will be something of interest for you! More information is coming soon.

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

The Shawn Carter Foundation scholarship program offers $1,500-$2,000 grants to qualifying individuals who demonstrate financial need and have overcome hardship. Individual grants may be renewed and can be used to cover college expenses such as books, lab fees, travel and certain living costs. The deadline to apply is May 31. More information can be found at the Shawn Carter Foundation website.

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Financial Literacy

Mother's Day the Affordable Way

May 13 is almost here! If you haven't had a chance to ponder the perfect gift, here are some ideas to help you show your mom you care while keeping costs in check.

Art from the heart. Remember the good old' days when Mom would gush over the dry noodle necklace or the dandelion bracelet you hand-crafted for her during recess? Now that you're grown, her enthusiasm for such treasures may have dwindled slightly, but that doesn't mean she won't still love a homemade gift. Consider researching do-it-yourself (DIY) gurus like Martha Stewart or websites loaded with DIY projects such as or for inspiration. If DIY's not for you, try dabbling in the culinary arts by preparing a home cooked meal to repay her for time spent keeping you fed, happy and healthy.

Spend more time, less money. Many moms are itching to get some quality time with their children or grandkids. Check out your city's website for local Mother's Day special events and discounts. Consider taking a painting class, signing up for a day of gardening at a local park or conservatory or volunteering for a local charity together.

If that diamond ring won't shine… If you're looking to do a little more this year, there are many ways to purchase a high-end gift without spending a fortune. Start by checking out local or online retail sales. Sites like, and offer unique shopping experiences that might just lead you to the perfect gift at a lower price.

Let her spend. Does she like getting her nails done? What's her favorite place to eat or shop for clothes? Gift certificates or cards are a great way to limit your spending while ensuring that she gets something she'll truly enjoy.

Give the gift of downtime. Sometimes moms need a break to relax and recharge, especially if they're caregivers. Offer to take care of things for a while so she can escape her daily routine and do something just for herself. If possible, give her a gift certificate and send her off to spend it.

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Student Loan Management

Ask the Expert: Do furloughed federal employees have student loan payment options?

Do you have federal employees calling because they're having trouble making ends meet and struggling to make student loan payments during a furlough? Remind them that while their student loan payments are just as important as their rent, car payment or other fixed expenses, they may have more options available to help with their student loans than they do with other household expenses.

First and foremost, your borrowers need to contact their student loan servicer to find out what options are available. If they're not sure where to start, encourage them to visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the U.S. Department of Education's comprehensive database for all federal student aid information.

At, they'll find their:

Borrowers who are unable to make their current student loan payments may wish to consider pursuing these options in the following order:

1. Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

IBR is designed to make repayment easier for borrowers with high debt levels and low salaries. To qualify for IBR, borrowers must have a partial financial hardship. This means the borrower's monthly payment amount for their IBR-eligible federal student loans under a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan is higher than the monthly payment amount under IBR. Their payment amount may increase or decrease each year based on income and family size. Once a borrower initially qualifies for IBR, they may continue to make payments under the plan even if they no longer have a partial financial hardship.

2. Deferment (most likely an economic hardship deferment)

Deferment is a period during which repayment of the principal and interest of a borrower's loan is temporarily delayed. During a deferment, borrowers do not need to make payments. Depending on the type of loan, the federal government may pay the interest that accrues during deferment.

3. Forbearance (specifically, a discretionary forbearance)

Forbearance is an option for borrowers who don't qualify for a deferment and can't make their scheduled payments, but intend to repay their loans. In these situations, the borrower's loan servicer can grant forbearance. Forbearance allows the borrower to stop making payments or reduce the monthly payment for up to 12 months; however, interest will continue to accrue on both subsidized and unsubsidized loans (including all PLUS loans).

Remind your borrowers to be aware of accruing interest during both deferment and forbearance. Suggest they continue to pay the interest on their loans during this time if they're able.

You and the borrowers you serve can find more information about repayment, deferment and forbearance options at

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