“That’s exactly it!” exclaimed my executive coaching client. “I have too many apps running in my mind and they are going all the time. No wonder I feel constantly tapped out.” I was reminded of a recent experience where my smartphone battery was draining inordinately fast. The support desk answer should not have surprised me – shut down some apps and tell others to stop trolling for updates.
Aren’t our minds doing the same thing? We try to balance so many important things, staying current on the latest updates on news and social media, trying to be everything to everyone, always “on”. It’s no wonder our physiological batteries are draining at such a rapid rate AND that they don’t seem to hold the charge that they once did. How can we reverse this trend? How can we get back to having a full charge and knowing how and when to keep it full? It requires focus and intention.
Try these five ways to retain the charge:
Identify and shut down mental malware.
My daughter recently had her computer overtaken by malware. It restricted her access to information, diverting only to sites that she didn’t want to go to. The same happens to us when we allow it to. We replay events from the past that don’t get us anywhere. We allow thoughts of resentment and lack of forgiveness to persist. These thoughts not only hold space and drain the battery, but do so at an accelerated rate. It’s time to let these things go….once and for all. If we let them go and they keep coming back, we likely need to take action to reconcile, engage in dialogue, or take an alternative active step to “put them to bed” to clean our mind’s hard drive, allowing space for those mental apps that propel us forward.
Focus on what leads you to the best you.
It is said that “what you focus on expands for you”. My experience leads me to believe this is true. If we buy a new black sports car, we suddenly notice all the other apparently new black sports cars that were there all the time. When I let my mental apps power up on topics that lead to frustration, avoidance, blame, victim mentality, anger, worry, and fear, I drain the battery. Why choose to focus on these things instead of those that give and promote energy, life, health, power, opportunity, and success? It’s always been a choice – yes, we can choose which apps we are running. When our batteries are low, we just doubt that we have the choice.
Turn it off.
My clients tell me that they simply are not allowed to “turn it off” in the evenings, weekends and vacations. By “it”, they mean their work and connectivity to it. When our batteries are full, we don’t come to that conclusion. We realize that we ALWAYS have a choice about anything in life including the power that work has over our lives. The same applies to our non-work mental apps. Resiliency is needed for the long haul. Turning our mental apps off for pause, reflection, and rest is not only healthy and allows the batteries to charge, but we are substantially more effective when we are back “on”.
I see this in my clients as I see it in myself. Our fascination with superheroes leads us to believe that we have superpowers to balance more and more in life. The latest new techniques and approaches and “powering through” tease us to believe that we can keep all those mental apps open, serving them as if they were the only app open. It’s simply not true. Studies in multi-tasking reveal that we are less productive when we do it. A realistic approach is to shut down the apps and focus on the vital few that serve us and others.
Identify your power apps.
We know that certain activities/apps refuel us faster than others, just like those that quickly drain us. Be mindful of your mental apps that are especially powerful. Let those that serve you do so in the most powerful ways – gratitude, best intentions for others, mindfulness, nonjudgment, and passion can all be power mental apps to recharge us. “No thought can exist in my mind without my consent” is part of my daily self-talk. It defuses and shuts down the negative apps and mental malware that rapidly drain my battery.
Just as you can adjust your handheld settings to reduce battery drainage from your apps while shutting down apps running in the background, you can do the same thing with your mind. Which mental apps would you benefit from shutting down, so you can maximize your productivity and potential?
Evan Roth is a Certified Executive Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner. He enjoys helping people thrive in the corporate world. You can find him at CoachEvanRoth.com.
Jim Harris, Partner Solutions’ Managing Director, has been with Nelnet for the past 12 years. Jim has a wide range of experience in the financial aid industry, and we are fortunate to have him on our team. Before coming to Nelnet, he worked at Colorado State University and was an active RMASFAA member. Recently, RMASFAA posted this spotlight article about Jim, his career, and his advice to new financial aid professionals:
I left college and immediately started my career working with students by teaching high school English and Speech/Debate. After 6 years, I moved to work for Western Wyoming Community College where I started as the Financial Aid Officer and then soon, the Director. Then, I was offered a great opportunity to work at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. They were all great experiences. I met so many helpful people and was able to participate in many RMASFAA committees. I made some of my best friends there….and a network of professionals that have been so supportive of me over the years. For the last 12 years I have been working at Nelnet. I lead our school team and assist with our Federal Student Aid relations. It is a dynamic and ever-changing environment for sure.
I believe I received the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award for the years that I worked on the Summer Institute Committee. I felt so honored. To be recognized by folks that I hold so much respect. I think I wanted them to just think “I gave it my all” for my role on the committee. It really boosted my confidence.
I think Financial Aid, in general, is full of policy and regulations. I would remind a new professional to make all their decisions to be as “student-centric” as possible. They communicate differently now. Texting, email, social media and I think we are challenged to keep up with those changes rather than making students change to how we are most comfortable communicating. Also, lean on your RMASFAA peers for advice and counsel. Never be afraid to ask questions.
I have not had the opportunity to attend a RMASFAA conference in the last couple of years although folks from my team have certainly been there. I can’t wait to attend the very next one.
Jim was the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award (formerly, Rookie of the Year Award) recipient in 2004.
Rising default rates are a concern for many schools. Nelnet is working hard to keep our borrowers on track with their loan repayment and to help those who are falling behind. Below are steps you can take to develop an effective, comprehensive plan for your school. For more information and tips from schools like yours, go to Nelnet’s Default Prevention Page.
1. Define the default-related issues at your school and share that information with key stakeholders.
To obtain executive support and buy–in from other divisions, it’s helpful to share data, tell stories of students who have defaulted, and present the cost implications of losing students before they’ve completed their programs.
2. Organize a cross-divisional team.
Since loan default is tied so closely to students who withdraw before program completion, a campus-wide approach is needed. In addition to financial aid, possible members of this cross-divisional intervention team may include Student Affairs, Faculty and Academic Advisors, Enrollment Management/Admissions, Student Accounts, Placement Office, and students. Set up recurring monthly or quarterly meetings to proactively prevent default, create action plans, and evaluate your success rate.
3. Gather data to identify at-risk borrowers at your school.
When you are analyzing which students are at risk of becoming defaulters at your school, it might not be easy to diagnose the main factors. Every school’s “who” is unique depending on its size, demographics, and programs. The “why” of loan default is just as important. Here are some common characteristics of those who are at risk of withdrawing before program completion and defaulting on their loans (from the December 2013 FSA Conference):
- Older (median age of 38 years old)
- Pell recipient/low-income
- Undergraduate loans only
- Median loan balance: $5,800
- Poor financial literacy
- Did not complete degree
4. Develop an in-school plan for at-risk students.
- Reach out to at-risk students immediately with targeted, proactive interventions
- Develop an early warning system for students demonstrating at-risk behavior
- Help students remain in school if at all possible
- If they’ve already left, help them return
- If they will not return, help them understand their repayment obligations
- Report withdrawal status to the Clearinghouse or NSLDS as soon as possible
5. Develop an in-school plan for all students.
- Consider enhanced entrance and exit counseling
- Provide financial literacy education
- Collect address, cell phone number, email and references (annually at minimum)
- Offer information about federal loan servicers and inform students of the importance of staying in communication with them
6. Develop an out-of-school follow-up plan with an emphasis on reaching out to at-risk students and delinquent borrowers.
- Use social media to promote positive loan repayment habits
- Ask borrowers to contact you if they have questions
- Validate all borrower contact information
- Offer re-enrollment or transfer assistance and employment counseling and search assistance
- Once again review servicer information with students and urge them to contact their servicer
- Communicate with borrowers through a variety of methods – phone calls, emails, and letters
7. Carry out the plan, monitor results, and adjust where needed.
- Work with your federal loan servicers as you develop and execute your plan—they have resources, people, training, information, reports, and other services for schools and are in regular contact with your borrowers.
- Continue to monitor performance statistics as noted in your plan—actions that impacted withdrawal rates, information obtained from students who withdrew, financial literacy program participation, success of various outreach efforts for delinquent borrowers, etc.
- Review your draft Cohort Default Rates each year and update any incorrect information
For more information about Nelnet federal loan servicing or for assistance with your school’s default prevention efforts, please feel free to contact your Regional Director.
Federal Training Officer David Bartnicki recently shared these updates:
150% DL Sub Limits and NSLDS reporting
A lot of schools have been asking questions around the new reporting requirements in NSLDS due to the 150% DL Sub Limits. ED recently hosted two webinars providing detailed information on the new NSLDS Reporting Requirements. I am pleased to announce that the recordings of those webinars are now available for viewing. Please see Dear Colleague Letter ANN-14-16 (http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/ANN1416.html) for specific instructions and links to view the recordings.
Annual Security Reports
ED recently posted a Dear Colleague Letter (GEN-14-13) reminding institutions that the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) amended the Clery Act to require institutions to compile statistics for incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and to include certain policies, procedures, and programs pertaining to these incidents in their annual security reports (ASRs).
Please note: the statute requires institutions to include this new information in their annual security reports beginning with the ASR that must be provided to students, employees, and prospective students and employees by October 1, 2014. Though regulations have not been finalized yet, institutions must make a good-faith effort to comply with the statutory provisions as written and should use the statute as the basis for revising or developing policies, procedures, and programs in advance of the ASR that must be issued by October 1, 2014. Please make sure the appropriate authorities on campus are aware of these changes.
For additional information about specific policy changes and statistic gathering requirements, please see GEN-14-13 and the May 29, 2014 electronic announcement.
Additional Guidance on the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act
ED published two recent DCLs that provided further guidance around the Supreme Court’s ruling on the DOMA. In GEN-14-14, ED clarified that a stepparent, who meets the definition of “parent” in 34 CFR 668.2, and who is of the same sex as the dependent student’s biological or adoptive parent, may apply for a Direct PLUS Loan if the stepparent and parent were legally married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage, regardless of where the couple resides. Of course, any stepparent will have to meet the eligibility requirements for a parent to receive a Direct PLUS Loan as stated in 34 CFR 685.200(c).
In addition, GEN-14-14 also indicated that in circumstances where a borrower’s spouse information is taken into consideration for an income-driven repayment plan, the term “spouse” includes a same-sex spouse if the borrower and spouse were legally married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage, regardless of where the couple resides. This includes both Direct Loan and FFEL programs.
In GEN-14-15, ED discusses section 135 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) which requires a State that receives assistance under the HEA not to charge a member of the armed forces who is on active duty for more than 30 days and whose domicile or permanent duty station is in the State more than the in-State tuition rate for attendance at a public institution of higher education. Section 135 also provides that the spouse or dependent child of such a service member may not be charged more than the in-State tuition rate. Under the HEA, based upon the Supreme Court’s ruling, a “spouse” to whom a public institution of higher education must extend in-State tuition benefits includes a spouse in a same-sex marriage who is married to a member of the armed forces, provided that the couple was legally married in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage.
For more detailed information, please see GEN-14-14 and GEN-14-15.
For those schools participating in the Campus-Based programs, or for those schools contemplating getting into the Campus-Based programs, the application for the Fiscal Operations Report for 2013-2014 and Application to Participate for 2015-2016 (FISAP) is now available on the eCB Web site(cbfisap.ed.gov). Please note: the deadline for the electronic submission of the FISAP is 11:59 P.M. (ET) on October 1, 2014. Transmission must be completed by 12:00 midnight on October 1, 2014.
Online training to complete the FISAP should be available on IFAP in the near future.
New Experimental Sites
On July 31, 2014, ED published a federal register notice outlining new experimental site initiatives that schools could apply to participate in where the Secretary can waive certain statutory or regulation requirements for schools to test alternative methods of administering Title IV funds. The new experiments we would like schools to test are: prior learning assessments, competency-based education, limited direct assessment, and FWS for near-peer counseling. I know schools often talk about prior learning or competency-based programs so now is your chance to help the Department understand these learning methods and how we might incorporate them into our Title IV rules and regulations.
Letters of application to participate in any of the proposed experiments described in the notice must be received by the Department no later than September 29, 2014 in order for an institution to receive priority to be considered for participation in the experiment.
For detailed information about the experiments and the application process, please see the July 31, 2014 federal register (http://ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/FR073114ExperimentalSites.html).
FSA Training Conference
I am happy to report that registration and lodging for the 2014 FSA Training Conference is now open at http://fsaconferences.ed.gov. This year’s conference will be held in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, December 2 – December 5, 2014. Conference hotels fill up fast, so, if you have not made your reservations, please consider doing so as soon as possible.
FSA recently posted the 2015-2016 Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Formula Guide. The guide includes EFC worksheets and tables that can be used to calculate an estimated EFC for students. Click here to download the guide.
For more information, please see FSA’s original article: http://www.ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/090214EFC1516FormulaGuide.html.
The Department of Education recently announced changes that are being made to strengthen federal student loan servicing, including the renegotiation of contract terms with servicers. These terms are meant to create additional incentives for servicers to focus on effective counseling and outreach to ensure borrowers select the best repayment option for them and on enhanced customer satisfaction for student and parent borrowers at all stages of the student loan life cycle. These incentives include:
- Revised performance metrics that increase the weight of the existing borrower customer satisfaction survey from 20 percent of the overall score to 35 percent.
- A payment structure that focuses on servicers’ success in keeping borrowers in on-time repayment status and helping borrowers avoid default.
- Additional incentives tied to each servicer’s success in reducing delinquency in payments across their portfolio.
In the coming weeks, FSA will announce opportunities to hear directly from student loan borrowers and stakeholders about their ideas for improving the federal student loan program. This feedback will be used to make recommendations for helping struggling borrowers. The Department will also soon begin the process to allow more borrowers to cap their payments at ten percent of their monthly incomes under an expanded Pay As You Earn repayment plan option.
For further details, please see the Department of Education’s original announcement: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-strengthens-federal-student-loan-servicing.
Our School Service Center (SSC) is designed to quickly handle the day-to-day questions of our school partners. When contacting the SSC, schools receive:
- Immediate answers to questions regarding Nelnet-serviced loans, Nsight Plus, NSLDS, and more
- Exceptional service from highly trained, knowledgeable representatives
- Expedited assistance if a borrower is on the line
You can reach the SSC at 866.4NELNET (866.463.5638). The SSC operates Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Central). If you call the SSC after hours, you can leave a message or be transferred to the 24/7 borrower line.
Here’s a look at the quick, simple selections you’ll be asked to make when you call the SSC:
Step 1 | Press…
Step 2 | Press…
We look forward to continuing to provide you and your students with excellent customer service through the SSC!