Climbing the Hill toward greater higher-ed access
Last week, NCTC organized a Day of Action so that some of our Financial Aid U (FAU) and College Assistance Program (CAP) members could meet with their elected officials in order to advocate for higher education and financial aid policies that increase postsecondary access and affordability. These two initiatives both entail assisting students and their families with filling-out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the first step in accessing financial aid, without which the dream of attending college would be beyond the reach of too many families.
In Washington, D.C., we were joined by representatives of a diverse group of programs: Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (Massachusetts), Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, United Way of Central Alabama, PathWays PA (Pennsylvania), Enterprise Community Partners (Ohio), Atlanta Community Food Bank (Georgia), and the Food Bank of New York City. Each group met with its U.S. Senators and the Representatives of the districts where they provide services. In all, these groups met with staff from 13 Senators and 17 Representatives – an impressive 30 meetings.
The purpose of these meetings was twofold. First, these groups had the opportunity to share the impact and success of their programs in their communities, the communities these members of Congress represent. But beyond that, we organized this day in order to ask these elected officials to support policies that improve and strengthen the financial aid that exists to help make higher education a reality for low- and moderate-income students, many of whom are first-generation college students. The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), Pell Grants, and affordable federal loan interest rates are all vulnerable in the coming years, put at risk by expirations and budget cuts. FAU and CAP groups helped make the case that these policies need to be protected and strengthened, because without these aid programs, higher education – and the associated better job prospects, higher earnings, and lower unemployment – would be unachievable.
A big thank you to all of the program representatives who took part in the Day of Action!