Financial Aid Professionals Reflect on Virtual Advocacy Meetings With Congress

By NASFAA Policy & Federal Relations Staff

As part of November’s Advocacy Pipeline, NASFAA hosted two members – Kelley Christianson from Boise State University and Tim Wolsey from Chandler-Gilbert Community College – for virtual meetings with congressional staffers from Idaho and Arizona.

The virtual pipeline day entailed meetings with several Senate offices: Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.). NASFAA members advocated for doubling the maximum Pell Grant award, restoring the automatic inflation adjustment for the Pell Grant, and shifting Pell to full mandatory funding. They shared the importance of adequately funding campus-based aid programs, such as the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

Additionally, members highlighted the significant impacts that students across the country would face if those programs were to be eliminated, as proposed in a House spending plan for fiscal year 2024, which is currently being debated. Lastly, NASFAA members expressed support for the Student Loan Tax Elimination Act, cosponsored by Sinema, which would eliminate student loan origination fees.This is an issue that NASFAA has long advocated for.

We asked the two Advocacy Pipeline participants to share their thoughts and key takeaways from their time advocating with congressional staffers. Read on to learn about their experiences, and fill out this interest form if you would like to participate in an Advocacy Pipeline event.

Kelley Christianson – Director, Financial Aid & Scholarships, Boise State University:

I appreciated participating in the Advocacy Pipeline because it really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I had previously participated in a Hill visit with the WASFAA group attending the NASFAA Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo years ago, but it was a large group. This virtual experience was much smaller and required my active participation.

Nalia Medina from NASFAA did a great job preparing and setting expectations for the visits, as well as providing talking points. We were able to then formulate our own message, including anecdotal situations of our interactions with students. 

Our scheduled meetings were successful, with the congressional staffers who were interested in the topics asking us follow-up questions. I highly encourage anyone comfortably working in the background to take advantage of the challenge and opportunity to participate in the Advocacy Pipeline. It’s a great opportunity to expand your professional skills while also advocating for the students that we’re all in this profession to serve. 

Tim Wolsey –  Director of Financial Aid, Chandler-Gilbert Community College:

My experience with the NASFAA Advocacy Pipeline was very rewarding. Not only did I get the chance to discuss priorities with our government officials, but I also learned a lot from the NASFAA staff and my colleague participating with me.

I appreciated the opportunity to participate and will always encourage others to join in advocacy efforts. It was eye-opening to get the chance to speak with congressional staffers and to think on a more national scale about the issues facing our students and institutions. Thank you for such a wonderful experience.


Publication Date: 12/21/2023

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