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West Virginia Association of
Student Financial Aid Administrators

Committed to making Higher Education a reality in West Virginia

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Several events of a similar nature catapulted the status of the financial aid profession and correspondingly the need for an association of like-minded individuals at the state, regional and national levels. The first action was the passage of the "landmark" federal legislation referred to as the "Higher Education Act of 1965." The Act created the "campus-based" financial aid programs-the Educational Opportunity Grant now called the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Perkins Loan and the College Work Study. Simultaneously, legislation was being passed at the state level in numerous states-West Virginia being one of the first fifteen (15) states to implement a state-level need-based grant and /or scholarship program. With the proliferation of aid programs at the federal and state levels came the inclusion of mandated qualitative and quantitative accountability measures to be implemented by educational institutions in order to receive the funds and thus, in turn raised the visibility and importance of the critical role that financial aid offices at post-secondary institutions would play moving forward. To ensure compliance educational institutions would need to maintain a highly qualified staff with expertise in financial aid administration.

In West Virginia, the state association was formulated in 1967. Those pioneering individuals, which West Virginia had several, were obvious visionaries from the standpoint of assessing the future needs of financial aid professionals by virtue of the creation of an association that would be the appropriate vehicle for promoting its existence and for providing a forum to enable financial aid personnel an opportunity to regularly interact with financial aid staff from other educational institutions via meetings, conferences, training and other learning activities.

Having participated in association activities from my initial employment in 1968 as state Grant Program coordinator of the state's major need-based financial aid program with the Commission on Higher Education with later iterations-the West Virginia Board of Regents, the State College and University System to the current Higher Education Policy Commission until my retirement in 2013, I had an excellent vantage point to have witnessed the evolution of the association from both its membership as well as its scope and effect in the field of financial aid professionalism. I observed the transformation in the role of association members in supporting the core mission of educating students from one of minor significance to one of major "must" proportions.  It could also be said that as the association matured, it exercised greater influence in affecting statewide public policy in the area of financial aid. While not an initial member until years later, I was still active in association activities and was consulted on issues relative to policy and procedures.

The association started as a single type membership consisting of only "Regular Members"-those individuals who worked in financial aid offices on individual college campuses to a multi-faceted association consisting of three (3) types of members-"Regular Members"-those individuals above but expanding to financial aid personnel at all types of post-secondary institutions as well as full-time staff of the Higher Education Policy Commission, "Business Partners"-those individuals who work in the lending community as well as vendors who supply needed products for administering financial aid and "Associate Members"-those individuals who work in business offices and other campus officials, outreach counselors with various agencies, rehabilitation counselors, etc. Its scope and effect equally grew in stature and visibility from a campus and local focus to a much greater role through representation of its members on institutional, state, regional and national policy-making committees. Member participation provided an opportunity to regularly advocate for the interests of its constituents-the families of future students who would be seeking funding to pursue their lifetime goals and aspirations.

At the spring 2017 WVASFAA Conference held at Canaan Valley Resort and Conference Center the association celebrated its 50th anniversary. The conference committee invited all Past Presidents of the association as well as other individuals who contributed in its evolution. A gala festivity took place along with presentations by a number of Past Presidents and other special guests. I was invited to attend and to address the attendees. As I indicated that evening I will always be appreciative of those pioneers of the profession at both the state and national levels who served as mentors considering my knowledge of the administration of financial aid was minuscule when I began my career in financial aid as the coordinator of the state's West Virginia Grant  Program in 1968. At that time there was no formalized training or educational programs that prepared one for the profession. It was on-the-job training, 101. Fortunately, the advising and support of mentors enabled me to  learn the ins and outs of financial aid administration and that knowledge and skills permitted me to assist many other unprepared individuals entering the profession prior to the development of educational programs, training manuals, courses etc. With my involvement in the  state association along with membership in associations of national state grant and loan agencies, it became apparent over time that the financial aid profession was under appreciated and not viewed on a parallel with other higher education professions by both the higher education community and the general public at-large. Thus, the promotion of the profession became an obsession that became a driving force throughout my tenure. At every opportunity wherein I had contact with officials from higher education, governing boards, state agencies, politicians, and leaders in the private sector, I persistently promoted the merits of the profession as well as the critical role that the aid profession played in meeting the goals of educational institutions. I emphasized the dedication of aid professionals and the need to recognize the necessity of that work by adequately compensating those individuals. Thousands upon thousands of families annually rely upon members expertise to facilitate the educational process by providing the necessary resources in order for students to pursue a post-secondary education. In ending my comments I stated that the challenge for current and future members of the aid profession will be to continue to exceed performance expectations in an ever changing and complex environment under considerable stress at the same time by maintaining a positive attitude.

Finally, I want to publicly state that it was an honor and a privilege to have known and worked with an outstanding array of talented and dedicated individuals who were and continue to be committed to the core mission of providing much needed financial support to students. Being recognized by the members of the association was equally gratifying.

Robert Long
October 2019

In October 1992, the Association conducted its 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Charleston Marriott following the 6th running of the Collegiate Chase, a 5-mile road race to encourage college attendance and to raise money for scholarships that was started in 1987 at MASFAA’s 25th Anniversary Celebration.

All of the past presidents were located except for David Palmer.

 Eleven of the past presidents remain active in Financial Aid offices, eight in West Virginia, with one each in Michigan (M.S. McCann), Ohio (Carolyn Sabtino), and Missouri (Jo Ann Hunt). Two have retired, Jack Conrad and Dick Reese. Frank Julian is a professor at Morehead State in Kentucky, Tom Hillyard is in Admissions at Marietta College, Ohio. Nate Jackson has a Ford Agency in Elkins. Dennis Montrella works with Society Bank in Cleveland while Dencil White continues with Sallie Mae in Washington, D.C. Elaine Chiles (twice past president) heads the WVELS office in Charleston. Phil Sutphin is Dean of Instruction at a community college in Mississippi. Bud Hall is in Student Affairs at Wheeling Jesuit, and Nora Hart works in the health profession in Beckley.

Of the 23 past presidents, 17 attended the 25th anniversary party. All were present except David Palmer, Jack Conrad, Frank Julian, Joe Summers, Jo Ann Hunt, and Phil Sutphin.

Several of the past presidents share comments about their year that were posted throughout the conference for the membership to view.

Neil Bolyard
December 1994 (updated)


In 1985, through the effort of Neil Bolyard, the Association incorporated so that should any issues of legal liability arise, it would be the organization that was responsible as opposed to the officers and individuals. In September 1986, Ken Sears, at the direction of the membership, in order to clarify our tax status and in preparation for the 1987 MASFAA conference, applied for and obtained tax exempt status for WVASFAA.

In October 1987, under the leadership of Elaine Chiles, WVASFAA had the honor of hosting the MASFAA annual Conference at the Charleston Civic Center and Charleston Marriott Hotel. This was no ordinary MASFAA conference as it was a celebration of MASFAA’s twenty-fifth anniversary. It was a great conference and an accomplishment in which our Association can certainly take pride.

Haydon Rudolf
January 1988

WVASFAA is a professional organization devoted to enhancing professional competency, assisting in the development of effective programs, facilitating communication, and providing training opportunities in the field of student financial aid services.

Our association has been in existence since 1967. In that time, we have had several name changes, a few constitutional revisions, and a significant impact on training in the financial aid profession.

For those of you who love the details of history, Mr. Neil Bolyard, one of our founding members, and a former president of WVASFAA, wrote the following in 1985:

Our association was formed in 1967. Financial Aid Officers had been meeting with the Student Personnel Administrators of West Virginia Association of Student Personnel Administrators (WVASPA) during their twice-a-year meetings.

The spring meeting of the Student Personnel Administrations in 1967 was held at the Clarksburg Branch of Salem College, Clarksburg, WV. Many of the institutional representatives responsible for financial aid were Deans of Students. The Deans of Students from Concord College (Kevin O’Sullivan) and West Virginia Institute of Technology (David Palmer), and the Scholarship/Veterans Coordinator from West Virginia University (Neil Bolyard) drafted a brief constitution for an organization, the West Virginia Collegiate Financial Aid Officers Association (WVCFAOA) on April 30, 1967.

It was a loosely defined organization with a minimal amount of structure. David Palmer was adamant that another formal organization was probably not really necessary and suggested that there be only two officers, a chairman and a vice chairman. There was no treasurer since no dues were proposed and no secretary since the drafting of the original constitution permitted the vice-chairman to take minutes should the group decide minutes were really necessary.

On Monday, May 1, 1967, representatives of seven public and two private institutions met and adopted the first constitution. The institutions represented were: Concord College, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Salem College, Shepherd College, West Virginia Institute of Technology, West Virginia State College, West Virginia University, and Wheeling College. Membership was institutional.

Following adoption of the constitution, those in the initial meeting elected David Palmer (West Virginia Institute of Technology) as the first Chairman and Freda Burkett (West Virginia State College) as the first Vice-Chairman.

The following year the group changed its name to the Council of West Virginia Collegiate Financial Aid Officers at the suggestion of the West Virginia Commission on Higher Education. The commission wanted to create a “super council” with representatives of all aspects of higher education as members, including groups like physical plant and central administration, as well as academic deans. There were councils representing all areas of student personnel: Financial Aid, Placement, Student Activities, Housing, Foreign Students, etc.

The spring meeting in 1969 was huge, involving all the councils, the meeting was held in Charleston. In 1969, the state legislature created the West Virginia Board of Regents and abolished the Commission on Higher Education. The council concept and joint meeting were abandoned in 1970.

While the financial aid group met in 1970, the constitution was revised extensively, with major changes, including a new name: The West Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Membership was changed from institutional to individual with dues established at five dollars annually. The Association membership continued to grow each year. Most of the activities were devoted to training for members and high school counselors. The first week-long workshop for new aid officers was conducted in 1972. This was continued for three years, then discontinued since the Mid-West Association’s Annual Workshop fulfilled the need for neophyte training.

One of the more significant contributions to training was the development of the first Chief Executive Officers Financial Aid Workshops ever held in the United States in 1978. The Chancellor of the Board of Regents of the State of New Jersey, the Executive Director of NASFAA, and a Vice President of Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina comprised the faculty of the workshop for Presidents and Chief Students Personnel Officers of colleges and universities throughout West Virginia. The organizers of the workshop received the cooperation and assistance of the Chancellor of the Board of Regents. The meeting had all public and private student personnel representative in attendance and all president but one, representing a private college. The program was expanded on a national scale and sponsored by NAUBO and NASFAA. Other significant training actives included the development of a policy and procedures manual by one of our financial aid officers (Ken Sears, our 1985/86 President) that was used to assist in the development of the NASFAA policy and procedures manual.

Our membership classification was expanded in the early eighties to include regular (practicing aid officers) and associated (individuals not at educational institutions or state agencies) categories.

The Chief Executive Officers for our organization and the institutions they represented at the time of their election can be viewed by clicking here.

Three of our past presidents are Directors of Financial Aid in other states, Michigan and Missouri. Two of our former presidents are executives, one with Sallie Mae and another with WVELS. One has returned to the ministry. One works as an executive for a large Stafford Loan lender. Six are in other areas of education on campuses; eleven are still in financial aid.

It is interesting to note that all who are still working are within the MASFAA region with one exception, our 1978-79 president, Denzil White, who is working in Washington, D.C.

Neil Bolyard
August 1985


West Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
                                   Glenville State University, PO Box 5, Glenville, WV  26351        

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