When a group of Oklahoma financial aid administrators chose to sit near the front of a conference room filled with approximately 2,500 of their peers in New Orleans recently, little did they know that within minutes they would be accepting a national award.
The group was in the Crescent City attending the annual conference of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), an organization that supports financial aid professionals at colleges, universities and career schools.
NASFAA recognized Oklahoma’s state association, OASFAA, for its live, call-in television program “Cash for College” that aired last January on the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, Oklahoma’s public broadcasting network. The TV event took top honors in the “Service to Students, Parents and Families” category. Officials produced the one-hour, live telecast to promote financial aid awareness among college students and prospective college students and their families.
“It is certainly good news for our state to be recognized nationally for the ‘Cash for College’ telecast,” higher education Chancellor Hans Brisch said. “A lot of hard work went into coordinating and producing the show, and because of its success, more Oklahomans now have additional information that they can use to help them or someone they know go to college.”
Mary Mowdy, executive director of the Oklahoma Guaranteed Student Loan Program (OGSLP) and a member of OASFAA, said NASFAA didn’t let anyone from the Oklahoma association know ahead of time that they had won an award.
“It did appear as if we were expecting the award because we were all sitting together so close to the stage, but we were very surprised when the presenter announced the winner,” Mowdy said. “To be recognized nationally for a project that we had never attempted before was very gratifying. It makes us want to do an even better job next time.”
Mowdy also lauded OETA’s role, stating that station officials were willing to handle the challenges of producing a live call-in show.
As a benefit for winning the award, NASFAA will highlight the “Cash for College” telecast in one of its upcoming quarterly magazines. Plus, OASFAA will receive $500, all of which will go back into helping produce the next “Cash for College” television program, tentatively scheduled for February 2003.
“Cash for College” was produced by OETA in cooperation with OASFAA, OGSLP, the State Regents, the Oklahoma College Savings Plan, Nelnet Educational Services, Oklahoma Student Loan Authority, Student Loan Marketing Association and Stillwater National Bank, as well as Arvest Bank, Bank of Oklahoma, Bank One, Local Oklahoma Bank and Tinker Federal Credit Union.
“We are very sensitive to the affordability of a college education, so we were pleased to have contributed to this live call-in show,” State Regents Chairman Carl Renfro said. “The success of the program, as well as the subsequent national recognition, is a credit to all those parties involved in the production of the program. We eagerly await “Cash for College: Part II” next year and look forward to being part of it once again.”
A webcast version of the “Cash for College” broadcast is available for viewing online at www.okhighered.org/cashforcollege.