On a crisp October day in 1966, Dr. Charles Witten of the University of South Carolina called a meeting of those college officials in the state who had the responsibility of financial aid at their school. Dr. Witten, in his letter, invited “those of us who are concerned with financial aid to students to meet together to discuss our common problems.” From this early meeting on October 2, 1966, the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators was formed. There were only nine who answered the call, but a more dedicated group you could not find.
The “Fearless Nine” that gathered that day in Columbia had both a mission and a vision. The mission was to create a statewide organization that would present a unified effort in working on mutual problems affecting all aid offices regardless of whether the school was public, private, two-year, or technical in nature. The vision was of a strong, unified organization that developed leaders within the financial aid profession on a local, regional, and national level. It is good to report that both were realized.
Not much information exists from those early days except a few notes, some sketchy details, a letter or two, a roster of members, and memories. If minutes were kept of early meetings, they were not preserved for future members to read and ponder. The information we do have from the early years of SCASFAA shows that an emphasis was placed on public relations to increase membership, and on training, including the development of materials and information that could be used for in-office training of staff. The workshops that were held in state emphasized not only knowledge of administering programs, but also a sense of professionalism for members of the financial aid profession. Although the pace started slowly, and most activities were directed inward, as time went on, this fledgling association would leave its influence on regional and national issues.
This brief history attempts to capture the highlights of each one of the past thirty-five years. Time will not permit a detailed description of all activities that SCASFAA and individual members accomplished each year. If we could single out one common thread that winds through each year, it would be that all members of SCASFAA, regardless of the type of school or organization that they represented or of their own personal biases, came together in a close knit working relationship to accomplish goals and objectives for the good of the association as a whole. From the first nine to the present 300 plus, we stand as one when there is work to be done.