By Lauren Gualdino
Nearly 20 Mercy College students and alumni traveled to Albany participate in the New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day last month. New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day was a statewide initiative to raise awareness about the importance of state student aid programs. The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) sponsored the event.
The CICU was founded in 1956 and is a statewide association representing the public policy interests of the chief executives of more than 100 independent colleges and universities in New York state. The CICU is not a government agency, but is a corporation formed under the New York State Regents, and their mission is to develop consensus among a diverse membership and to advance public policy in higher education.
New York Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day is an annual event that allows students to have the opportunity to meet state legislators and share their personal stories on how government aid programs have assisted them, enabling them in continue with their higher education. Students advocated for continued state aid in the forms of Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Grad TAP, the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Science and Technology Entry programs (STEP/C-STEP), and Liberty Partnerships.
There were over 100 students from all over the state who attended the event. The first part of the day consisted of a kick-off reception where each student stood up and addressed how state aid directly affected them. After the reception, students were able speak directly to state legislators at the State Capital. Legislators were able to hear from students and see for themselves the impact that state aid has in helping students receive a higher education.
As stated in a press release, President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline said, “It is critical for our legislators to hear from college students personally impacted by state student aid programs. Many of our students heavily rely on the aid to help them finance and achieve their college education.”
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo had unveiled his proposal for the 2011-2012 State Budget only a few days before the Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day. Under Cuomo’s proposed budget plan, students attending four-year colleges would be able to receive a maximum grant of $5,000 for TAP, restoring the current year’s cuts. Meanwhile, level funding remains in place for opportunity programs such as HEOP, STEP/C-STEP, and Liberty Partnerships.
The Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day was a successful event. Mercy College, along with the other schools, looks forward to seeing if the students’ presentations helped in persuading New York State to allow more state aid for students.