AASFAA- 50 Years of Making a Difference

Alabama Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (AASFAA) has made a tremendous impact in the lives of financial aid administrators by providing training and resources to better serve our students for the past 50 years. As we prepare for the 50th Spring Conference, AASFAA members share their personal memories of AASFAA.

I will never forget my first annual Spring Conference back in 2008. Having so many individuals that I now know, love and look up to so well greet and welcome me into the Association helped me to see that, although Student Financial Aid is an extremely stressful industry and career, the people who carry the responsibilities are truly the most dedicated, hardworking and compassionate folks I know. For the last 10 years, I have grown and developed as a Student Financial Aid Professional because of all these individuals have invested in me. I am so grateful for the recent opportunity to begin giving back and offering the same investment to others.

The annual presentation of the Overaward has also always been a fun experience and one I hope continues for all the years of AASFAA! (Thankfully I have avoided being a recipient so far!!)
Nikki Bradbury
Associate Director
University of Montevallo

In the 37 years since I attended my first AASFAA meeting, there have been innumerable changes. People and programs have come and gone, regulations have changed, technology allows us to do in a few hours what used to take weeks, and on and on. Change is constant, but one thing has not changed. In my opinion, the people who work in financial aid are the most dedicated, hard-working professionals in higher education. They go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that their students receive the assistance they need to succeed in college and in life. For the last 50 years, the members of AASFAA have played a huge role in training me to do my job well, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I remember Larry Ridgeway (then the Director of Financial Aid at Auburn) telling me back in 1981 that I needed to join AASFAA and begin to build my network of financial aid professionals. I attended my first conference in April that year, which was held at the state park in Guntersville. The AASFAA President that year was Gertrude Clark, who was at that time the Director of Financial Aid at Birmingham Southern. She and Jerry Bird (Director of Financial Aid at UAB) seemed “larger than life” to me, and I wondered then if I would ever attain the professional stature of those two great financial aid leaders. I have been a member of AASFAA ever since. Dr. Bill Wall, Don Rainer, Jim Gibson, Linda Knowles, Larry Smith, Harvey Watt, Buddy Jackson, Joan Waters, Dot Wilkinson, and many others also demonstrated to me what it means to be a financial aid professional, and I have tried to emulate their example for others.

Through the years, I have received far more from my association with AASFAA than I have contributed. I have relied on my AASFAA friends for mentoring, advice, wisdom, expertise, and encouragement many times. I hope I have offered the same things to my colleagues when they have needed them.

I have missed a few AASFAA meetings over the years, but not many. I have made it a priority to attend my state meeting. At times, I might have been better served by attending SASFAA or NASFAA (and I have attended those meetings, just not every year), but AASFAA is family to me.  I prefer to be with my people when I have to choose which one meeting I can attend due to funding constraints
AASFAA gives us all the opportunity to learn leadership skills when we “put ourselves out there” and run for elected office. I learned a lot about leadership while I served, and I strongly encourage the membership to consider how they might give back to AASFAA. There are many ways to do this. Serve on a committee, run for office, or work on a special project. It takes all of us to make AASFAA successful, and every contribution is important. AASFAA will always need new people to step up–it does not require too much of your time, and the benefits of your service are immeasurable!
Henry L. “Chip” Quisenberry, Jr., Ed.D.
Director, Financial Aid
Enterprise State Community College

I remember my first AASFAA conference back in 2002 as a brand new aid officer.  It was at the Mountain Brook Inn.  The first time I had ever been to Birmingham alone, the first time I had ever stayed in a hotel alone and my first conference.  I knew no one and was scared to death.  I remember the first person I met was Tommy Dismukes at the President’s reception, then I met Joel Paris, Sandra Davis and Ben Baker in the elevator going up to our rooms after the reception.  They made me feel welcomed to the association and that night I made lifelong friends and continue each year to make new ones.  I contribute my success as a financial aid officer to AASFAA and everyone that I have met and became friends with over the years.  Without all of you, I would have never made it this far.  AASFAA is a great organization and the people in it are amazing.  As David Bartnicki says “The only constant in financial aid is change”. Without AASFAA there is no way I could have ever kept up with all the rules and regulations we have to follow.  I want to say thank you to all of you that have been there for me over the past 16 years.

Donna Bass 
Director of Financial Aid
Lurleen B. Wallace Community College

I am pretty sure we are the only marriage that has come from AASFAA…met my now husband technically at SASFAA, but didn’t spend any time together until my first AASFAA spring conference 2002 at the beach.  That was in the “good old days” with lots of lenders, and we have fond memories of the Flora-bama with Mike Seiler, Chester Priest, Rosemary Tutt, Rich Nickel and others…
Lissa Powell


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