About Zack Duffy

By day Financial Aid Counselor at the University of Oregon by night Communications Chair for WASFAA somewhere in between husband. I'm also the Vice President of the Leadership Board for Big Brother Big Sisters of Lane County and creator of Live Like a Duck a financial literacy program for students at the University of Oregon. Living in the Northwest allows me to enjoy summers.

WASFAA Conference: Four Corners

The Four Corners is the only place in the US where four states intersect at one point. This includes Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The Visitor’s Center is open year round and admission is just $3. From the WASFAA Conference hotel in Phoenix, it’s a 6 hour drive north to the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Monument. While there, you can hike the 30 minute trip to Ute Mountain Lookout Butte for the best views.

WASFAA Conference: Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation

Each year at the annual conference, WASFAA selects a local charity to support and highlight. This year, we have selected the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation. The number of children in Arizona’s foster care system has grown from 10,000 in 2011 to over 14,000 today. Since 1983, AFFCF has been promoting the self-esteem and enriching the lives of Arizona’s children in foster care by funding activities, education, and other needs that provide them with quality experiences while they live through very difficult circumstances. You can read more about AFFCF at www.affcf.org or watch this video.  The Executive Director, Kris Jacober, will be attending our conference on Monday to speak with us and to collect donations from WASFAA members. Any money collected will be used specifically to help foster youth with college.

WASFAA President Highlights: OASFAA Conference

Jack Edwards
WASFAA President
Director Stanford University – Graduate School of Business

Last week I had the pleasure to attend the Oregon State (OASFAA) Conference.  For those of you who don’t know, OASFAA holds there annual conference every year at the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, located on the middle of the Oregon Coast in Gleneden Beach, Oregon.  Basically it is a 2 hour drive from Portland.  Half way there I was saying to myself, “Where the bloody hell am I?”  But as I pulled into Lincoln City, just north of the resort, I was greeted with an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.   Any of you who know me, oceans and beaches are my thing.  Once I got to the Salishan Resort, I immediately understood why OASFAA keeps going back every year.  It is such a tranquil, peaceful and beautiful location, not to mention they get great rates every year and the staff at the resort are so nice and accommodating.

The theme of the 2013 OASFAA Conference was “Financial MasquerAID, Reveal the Possibilities”.  It kicked off with lunch and a very inspiring keynote address from Joshua Morgan-Griggs.  Josh spoke about his family history and being a foster youth.  What resonated with me is how he overcame the challenges of being in the foster care system, followed his dreams and did not listen to his high school counselor who told him to go to community college.  Instead, Josh applied to three universities and got into all three.  He not only received his bachelor’s degree from Portland State University but has completed a Master’s Degree as well from the University of Washington where he now works as an Academic Counselor in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.  This young man has accomplished so much (I know he is not done yet) and is a prime example of why we are in the business we are in to help our nation’s youth no matter the background achieve their goals of an education.       

After a short break, next on the agenda was their opening session, Part One of the Federal Update conducted by Kim Wells from the Seattle Office.  Part Two was then held at the end of the conference as the closing session.   I thought this was a very creative way to have the Department of Education provide a Federal Update, lots of important information to start things off and more important information to send you on your way home.   There were about 30 sessions throughout the two and a half days of the conference providing something for everyone.   

Thursday evening ended with a MasquerAID Ball and the crowning of a king and queen.  So there was parade of those in costumes with Donna Fulton, President of OASFAA and myself picking top contenders.  The group then picked the winners.  Get this, the Queen of the ball was on stilts.  Unbelievable costume!   After the ball most of us moved the lounge for Karaoke.  OASFAA folks got talent and know how to have fun. 

I missed seeing Luhui and Zack from the WASFAA Executive Council, but it was great connecting with a number of colleagues and friends I have known for years and fun to meet others from the Oregon Financial Aid community.   A big thanks goes to Russell Seidelman, Conference Co-Chair for making all the arrangements for me to attend and to Donna for her making sure I was included in all the events throughout the conference.

WASFAA Conference Tentative Agenda


The WASFAA conference is about 3 and 1/2 months away! Registration is open, rooms are ready to be reserved and a tentative agenda is posted to the conference website. Check it out:


Your conference committee is committed to having the final conference agenda out in early March.

Don’t delay, get registered and reserve that $99/night room today!!

Great Lakes February 2013 SmartSessions

Tax Filing Rules: What Financial Aid Administrators Need to Know

Get a refresher on tax filing rules in advance of the 2013-14 verification cycle to better identify and resolve issues during the file review process. This webinar will take you through tax rules to ensure the data elements used to calculate the expected family contribution are correct.

Specific topics covered include:

  • IRS filing guidelines and thresholds
  • Comparing filing status to FAFSA results
  • Tax filing status and verification processes

February 12th @ 9 AM Pacific timehttps://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160860737&UID=1126995462&HMAC=bc0b18dfbea6cb44a2079b0a01ad8fb296ae4211&RT=MiM3&FM=1

February 26th @ 12 PM Pacific time https://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160860762&UID=1126995612&HMAC=63ad9406b776cf3f0ff48d105af425c678f7c4a3&RT=MiM3&FM=1

Dependency Status Dilemmas

Are your students confused about how to answer dependency questions on the FAFSA? When should you consider a dependency override? We’ll review ways to help your students while maintaining compliance.

Specific topics covered include:

  • Does a student’s self-sufficiency make them independent?
  • How does the IRS definition of a “dependent” differ from the FAFSA?
  • Who is considered to be a “Homeless Unaccompanied Youth?”

February 20th @ 9 AM Pacific time https://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160863212&UID=1127002037&HMAC=efbf5065c85737e108ec8c3b95eedb4859938c3d&RT=MiM3&FM=1

Professional Judgment Perplexities

This participatory session reviews complex case studies to show how professional judgment can be a critical tool for providing financial assistance to students in special situations. Help students get the aid they need by making adjustments to either the elements that affect a student’s expected family contribution (EFC) or the cost components of a student’s cost of attendance. Our training consultants will review this act of authority in detail and offer opportunities for discussion.

Specific topics covered include:

  • Why and when to use professional judgment
  • Permissible actions and required documentation
  • Common scenarios – loss of income, changes in assets, extraordinary expenses
  • Dependency override
  • Maintaining a professional judgment policy

February 19 @ 9 AM Pacific time https://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160863517&UID=1127002917&HMAC=263bef30c43381f7511d42659a5954de608a8e8a&RT=MiM3&FM=1

February 28 @ 12 PM Pacific time https://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160863812&UID=1127003372&HMAC=3e07998cfc50f162d0cd40c0712572fcfc1673e4&RT=MiM3&FM=1

Starting a Social Media Presence for Your Financial Aid Office

Your students are regularly using social media to communicate. But many financial aid offices have been slower to build a social media presence due to concerns about student privacy or resources.

Aid offices that have successfully deployed social media platforms have reported vast improvement in their two-way communications with students. This webinar will review the steps needed to plan and build a social media presence for your aid office on Facebook or Twitter and explore specific strategies for improving two-way communications with students.

Specific topics include:

  • Pros and cons of implementing Facebook or Twitter in the aid office
  • Crafting a strategy
  • Writing effective content
  • Turning regulatory language into effective social media content

Liz Gross, Director of University Marketing and Communications, the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha

Liz Gross is a higher education communications leader whose work focuses on social media and student engagement. She is currently the Director of University Marketing and Communications at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, where she is responsible for all social media management.

Anya Morozkina, Assistant Director, Communications and Administration, Office of Student Financial Services, Northeastern University.

Anya is responsible for the aid office marketing and communication strategies and manages their highly successful social media presence.

February 14 @ 12 PM Pacific time https://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160864072&UID=1127003827&HMAC=4135d732ff4b67b25e6e7449add20f52a3e602c3&RT=MiM3&FM=1

Media Training for Financial Aid Professionals

Due to heightened scrutiny on tuition costs and student borrowing, financial aid directors are increasingly asked to provide media interviews. It’s hard to provide effective information under pressure – unless you prepare in advance. There are proven techniques for managing your message during an interview and this webinar will help you master these skills.

Specific topics covered include:

  • Understanding the media – what do they want from a story?
  • Preparing in advance: your three key messages
  • Reviewing specific topics you might be asked about: aid, student debt, packaging philosophies
  • Conversational techniques for staying on message: bridging, reframing, enumerating

Guest Presenter – Phil Burdick, Chief Communications Officer, Harper College

Phil Burdick is an Emmy-award winning journalist who now specializes in media relations for higher education. As Chief Communications Officer for Harper College, he is responsible for all strategic communications for one of the largest community colleges in the U.S. He draws on his background in reporting, editing and producing the news, to train higher education administrators to respond quickly and effectively to media interviews and data requests.

February 27 @ 12 PM Pacific time https://glhec.webex.com/glhec/k2/j.php?ED=160864152&UID=1127004017&HMAC=f2eda0ef98bca8a38886ba6c6735ac109b585a2b&RT=MiM3&FM=1