NAICU Washington Update

Hill Event Celebrates Student Aid Success Stories

July 18, 2007

College students and members of Congress lauded the positive impact of federal student aid funding on the lives of individuals and the well being of the nation, at the Student Aid Alliance's annual breakfast on June 28.  The popular Capitol Hill event, emceed this year by Trinity University (D.C.) President Patricia McGuire, was organized by NAICU, the American Council on Education, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and members of the Alliance.

The breakfast coincided with the House's movement on the FY 2008 appropriations bill, which calls for increasing the maximum Pell Grant to $4,700 and limiting the Department of Education's ability to institute accreditation rules.

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), who chairs the House appropriations committee, spoke of continuing efforts by Democrats to improve federal student aid funding.  Obey urged attendees to voice their support of the appropriations bill – a sentiment shared by many of the speakers who followed.

"If the bill doesn't pass by a large enough margin [to override a possible presidential veto], kiss it goodbye," Obey said.

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) shared her own student aid success story.  She credited TRIO and other federal student aid programs for helping her overcome low expectations and an underperforming K-12 system to graduate from Marquette University.  

Moore said that although there is strong support in Congress for making college more affordable, work needs to be done on changing the attitudes of legislators who see higher education as just a drain on the federal budget, rather than an investment.

Georgetown University student Justin Lepscier spoke of how federal student aid made it possible for the son of a single mother living on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin to become a student leader and mentor for needy children.  

NAICU president David Warren closed the event by promising the Student Aid Alliance would continue fighting for the future of the federal aid programs.  

“We are going to continue advocating for a $5,000 Pell maximum.  In the end, this is the right thing to do," Warren said.

(Editor's Note:  This story was written by Pam Yau, a University of Pennsylvania student and summer intern at NAICU, who was also featured as one of the success stories at the Student Aid Alliance breakfast.)

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