Much of the policy discussions within higher education focus on undergraduate students, and oftentimes the needs of students in graduate and professional programs are put on the back burner. NASFAA members representing graduate and professional (G/P) programs on Thursday participated in meetings with congressional staff as part of NASFAA's ongoing Advocacy Pipeline initiative.
This is the second year that NASFAA has hosted an advocacy event on Capitol Hill solely focused on student aid issues related to graduate and professional students.
Five NASFAA members from around the county participated in visits with congressional staff members on Capitol Hill: Mendy Schmerer of the University of Oklahoma's Health Sciences Center, David Sheridan of Columbia University, Jason Gill of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Deidra Cummings of Lipscomb University, and Lisa Wioskowski of Duke University.
While on the hill, the members met with staff from 13 congressional offices, as well as staff from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to discuss issues affecting their sector and the students they serve.
"There are lots of high profile, hot-button issues consuming virtually all of the oxygen in Washington right now," Sheridan said. "Therefore it's more important than ever that we keep our senators and members of Congress – and their staffs – engaged in conversations about the importance of federal aid programs to students, families, the job market and our economy."
Members discussed recommendations on a range of policy issues, such as eliminating loan origination fees, retaining the Graduate PLUS Loan Program, preserving and improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), restoring the in-school loan interest subsidy for graduate students, and lowering interest rates on federal student loans for graduate students. NASFAA's recently-released Issue Brief on the PSLF program highlights steps lawmakers can take to preserve and strengthen the program.
"I enjoyed being part of the legislative process and being heard as a financial aid administrator advocating for graduate/professional students, as a U.Ss citizen, and as a parent of three children currently enrolled in college," Cummings said. "The NASFAA team is well equipped to prepare participants who want to advocate on behalf of the students we serve everyday."
Publication Date: 10/23/2017