Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The History of #FAchat

#FAchat (@theFAchat) is a moderated Twitter chat for Financial Aid Professionals generally held on the second Tuesday of each month from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST.  The inaugural #FAchat was held on June 5, 2012 and the #FAchat Blog was established on December 10, 2012. The blog shares transcripts from each monthly chat, resources and articles for financial aid professionals.

The creation of #FAchat was inspired by #SAchat (Student Affairs) and #EMchat (Enrollment Management), which are similar chats focusing on broader aspects of higher education and are also followed by many who participate in #FAchat. The Financial Aid Chat allows more focused discussion regarding topics that surround financial aid administration, research and affordability.

In the first year, #FAchat had 6,692 tweets, averaging 18 tweets per day (an average of 207 tweets per monthly chat). Tweets during this time came from 43 out of the 50 states! The most popular chat to date has been October 9, 2012 on the topic of Financial Aid and Politics, just four weeks prior to the presidential election, which came in at 370 tweets. At every major financial aid conference since its creation, #FAchat participants have met in person for an informal meet and greet. The #FAchat tag has been utilized and well-received as a means to share information and develop a conversation by a larger community of people,  including Federal Student Aid employees, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), policy analysts, journalists, legislators, financial aid researchers, financial aid administrators, enrollment management professionals, and student affairs professionals.

Monthly chats have discussed topics, such as  regulations, FAFSA completion campaigns, professional judgment, HEA reauthorization, satisfactory academic progress, customer service, and technology as well as topics on mobile applications, professional development, and professional networking. Each chat brings higher education colleagues together for a short period of time to have healthy and constructive discussions that provide motivation, new ideas, and knowledge of the field.

#FAchat was highlighted in the 2012-2013 NASFAA annual impact report, NASFAA Now, on pages 17 and 36 with a photo and an article authored by #FAchat participants, titled “Social Media: This Time It’s About You,” highlighting the strategies of using social media for professional development to consume information, participate in engaging conversations, curate your own content, and participate in conferences even if you are not able to attend.

#FAchat provides an opportunity for financial aid colleagues to engage in targeted discussion, publish ideas, participate in activities, and connect from across the nation. It allows conversation and creation of ideas, discussion, and professional connections. #FAchat can enrich your experience as a financial aid professional. It helps you to keep up-to-date with what is happening in the fast-moving field from negotiated rule-making to streamlining processes in the office.  It enables people to connect to backchannel discussions for events as they are happening, including conferences, legislative hearings, and webinars. Without a backchannel, several days may lapse before a summary of events is published by the media. In addition, the backchannel allows a more authentic voice to the actual events.

#FAchat is a great opportunity for you to take charge of your own professional development to connect, interact, and engage with your colleagues.

We hope you will join us for the next #FAChat.

#FAchat Contributors
Justin Chase Brown, Cofounder
Associate Director at the University of Missouri  (At the time FAchat was founded he was the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
Melissa Haberman, Cofounder
Compliance and Training Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin Colleges
Wisconsin Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators President, 2013-2014
Jayme Jarrett, Contributor
Financial Aid Counselor at Ohio Northern University

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