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York University
Toronto, ON


In June of 1979, the Canadian Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (CASFAA) was formally established as a division of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS). The Association was formed to represent Financial Aid and Award Administrators in colleges and universities across Canada. The text of the constitution of the association is available on this website.

The first conference after CASFAA was established as a division was held in June 1980 at the University of Victoria. It is interesting to note that several of the topics on that original agenda have resurfaced repeatedly on CASFAA programs since 1980. In particular "The Role of the Federal Government In the Financing of Post Secondary Students" and "A National Work Study Program-Is it Feasible" come to mind.

In the early years CASFAA invested a great deal of time and effort to establish a national profile with educational institutions, federal and provincial government departments and financial institutions. CASFAA provided expertise and a national perspective to the issues of student financial assistance.

CASFAA also promoted professional development for its members by offering excellent programs of presentations and workshops during the annual national conferences.

CASFAA's input has been sought increasingly by numerous agencies, councils and financial institutions. CASFAA also takes an active role in government policy reviews of financial assistance for students. In the decades since CASFAA has matured and become a respected player in the educational arena.

In 2001, CASFAA became an independent organization. In June of that year, McGill University hosted the first annual national conference which was followed by a very successful conference at the University of Winnipeg in 2002.

CASFAA will continue to be valued for its contribution to financial aid and awards policy development and student welfare.


The Beginnings

CASFAA was part of the Student Affairs Division (SAD) of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) for the 1978, 1979 and 1980 Annual Conferences. During the 1978/1979 year, CASFAA developed its own constitution, terms of reference, and objectives. The stated objectives included promoting the professional development of its members, fostering communication regarding scholarship and need-based programs among student financial aid personnel at Canadian post-secondary institutions, reviewing government financial aid policies and their administration as they impact students, initiating financial aid research, and cooperating with other agencies and councils.

Two key meetings occurred January 10, 1979 at the University of Ottawa and June 18, 1979 at the University of Sherbrooke when the relationship with CACUSS was reviewed and alternatives developed to meet CASFAA's goals more effectively. Of the two alternatives, it was decided to pursue establishing CASFAA as a separate Division under CACUSS, rather than create an independent association.

At the 1980 Conference at the University of Victoria, CASFAA met June 17 and the members endorsed the proposal to become a separate CACUSS Division. CACUSS granted CASFAA divisional status and invited CASFAA 1979/1980 President Patrick Phillips and 1980/1981 President Vern Loewen to join the CACUSS Board of Directors. Also at the June 17 annual meeting, the 1980/1981 CASFAA Executive was established, as well as eight regional representatives. Among the objectives outlined for the 1980/1981 year: meeting with the CSL Plenary Group and the Federal/Provincial Task Force on Student Assistance, protesting the new CSL interest rates and entering into negotiations regarding the new rate, undertaking a membership drive, building up financial resources, examining possible liaison with the National Union of Students, and developing practical approaches for member professional development.

Such was the beginning of CASFAA as an active force at the national level, working for the improvement of financial student aid policy and administration, at the same time as committing to providing effective professional development opportunities for its members.

1980 to 2005

CASFAA membership grew from 49 in 1985 to 136 in in 2000, and by 2004 it had increased to 205. In the twenty-five years 1981 to 2005, annual CASFAA Conferences took place at Universities in every Canadian province, providing members opportunities for both professional development and discussion of CSL Program issues with Federal representatives. CASFAA Presidents originated from universities, colleges and technical institutions across the country. In addition to representing the interests of financial aid administrators and students at the federal level at annual meetings of CSL Program personnel (like the National Advisory Group on Student Financial Assistance - NAGSFA), CASFAA Executives submitted formal reports and made presentations to many federal ministries and national task forces.

As early as April 1980, before CASFAA became a separate CACUSS division, a comprehensive submission was made to the Federal Provincial Task Force on Student Assistance - The Role of the Federal Government in the Financing of Post-Secondary Students. Among the many other submissions over the twenty-five years: Proposal for a Part-time Student Loan Program (1984); Federal Work Study: A Proposal (1984); Letter to the Honourable David Crombie, Secretary of State, on Work Study, Contingency Repayment & Loan Remission (1986); Student Financial Aid in Canada: A Position Paper (1987); Communications with Respect to the Canada Student Loan Program: A Position Paper (1992); Response to the Cook-Bennett Report (1992); Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development on the CSL Program(1994); Brief to the Senate Sub-Committee on Post-Secondary Education (1996); Submission to the House Standing Committee on Finance/Pre-Budget Consultations (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002); Recommendation to the Honourable Paul Martin, Minister of Finance, on the Treatment of Scholarships & Bursaries under the Income Tax Act (2000); Submission to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development on CSL Program Direct Loan Implementation Issues (2001); CSL Debt Reduction in Repayment Proposal (2001); Submission to the Government Caucus on Post-Secondary Research (2003). A number of the major submissions were provided in both English and French.

CASFAA Executive members took part in many consultations with senior federal government officials and politicians, as well as with organizations such as the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation and CSL Service Providers such as the National Student Loan Centre and its Edulinx Service Advisory Group. Examples: Meeting with the Honourable Serge Joyal, Secretary of State (1984); Meeting with James MacLaren, Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State (1985); Meeting with the Canadian Bankers Association (1985); National Forum on Post-Secondary Education (1987); Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Secretary of State (1987); Meeting with the Honourable David Crombie, Secretary of State, and Jean Charest, Minister of State for Youth (1987); Roundtable Meetings with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada on Student Financial Assistance (1996); Meeting with the Chair of the Financial Aid Working Group (FAWG) and Human Resources Development Canada (1997); Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation Think Tank on the Meaning of ‘Exceptional Merit’ in the Canadian Context (1999); Student Debt/Financial Need Think Tank, Association of Canadian Community Colleges (2000); Consultation on Financial Counselling between CASFAA and the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation (2002); Meeting with the Honourable Paul Bonwick, MP (2004).

On September 15, 2000, CASFAA co-sponsored a national conference In Calgary ‘Student Support Policy 2000-2010’ with the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. CASFAA’s theme presentation was “Student Financial Aid in Canada: A Discussion of Principles”. Among the participants in this event: Prime Minister Jean Chretien and several federal cabinet ministers, as well as the Millennium Foundation President and Bell Canada Board Chair Jean Monty.

In the context of CACUSS re-evaluating its organization, CASFAA's Executive carried out an in-depth review of its divisional status in relation to the role it had established at the national level. In 2001, CASFAA chose to become a standalone non-profit organization outside of CACUSS. New Constitution & Bylaws were developed and approved by the CASFAA membership. An application was made in 2002 to Industry Canada's Corporations Canada for incorporation of the CASFAA name, and it was granted in 2003. Thus, a new era began with CASFAA operating on its own, and continuing to meet the key objectives of membership professional development and input to government student assistance programs.