Student lobbyists say ‘no’ to financial aid cut backs

By Rebecca Bahr

Student lobbyists, including a representative from the NIU Student Association, are saying no to Bush administration proposals to cut back financial aid.

Victor Carranza, Chairman of the Student Committee on Financial Aid, recently met with key decision makers in Washington D.C. to influence policy in the Higher Education Act.

Several key issues are being addressed by the United States Students Association, the only national student lobbying group, Carranza said.

The USSA is working to defeat a Bush proposal that will allow for dispersement of student loans up to 60 days after classes begin, Carranza said.

“This is completely unacceptable because you can’t wait 60 days to pay your rent, you can’t wait 60 days to buy books or to pay your bills,” Carranza said.

Another Bush proposal would eliminate any financial aid for students in the bottom 10 percent of each class, Carranza said.

This policy would severely limit enrollment of students coming from lower to middle income families, Carranza said.

USSA officials cautioned that students often deal with issues based on emotion, whereas congressmen like to see statistics, Carranza said.

The congressional committees meet every five years to reevaluate higher education, Carranza said.

“Currently congress is getting together to listen to hearings in Washington and around the country to get feedback from people who were affected by the last one in 1986,” Carranza said. “The Higher Education Act deals with the Perkins Loan, the Stafford Loan, and any program that is government funded.”

As a representative of this campus, the SCOFA chairman said his job was to gather information on the new policies to bring back to NIU.

Students should become aware of the issues because now is the time to let the legislators know what you are thinking, Carranza said. Congress will vote on changes in the Higher Education Act this year.