Spring 2016 Online Publication    

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Federal Relations Press Release

On March 15th and 16th the Federal Relations Committee for the Delaware, Washington DC, and Maryland Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (DE-DC-MD ASFAA, also known as Tri-State) in conjunction with the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (EASFAA) stormed both the Maryland State House in Annapolis and Capitol Hill. DE-DC-MD ASFAA is a local association of financial aid professionals under the NASFAA umbrella, and represents more than 400 student aid administrators in Washington DC, Maryland, and Delaware. Collectively, the organizations represents thousands of financial aid professionals from a diverse array of colleges and universities, who counsel Federal Student Aid recipients from across the United States every day. "It is our responsibility to take part in the legislative process for both our nation and our state. It is an honor to represent such honored members of our higher education community. I believe that the voices of the financial aid community make a difference," said Aristea Williams, Co-Chair of the Tri-State and EASFAA Federal Relations Committee.

For the first time in several years, the Tri-State association visited the Maryland State House in Annapolis due to recent interest by the Maryland General Assembly in Higher Education Policy making. Visits were conducted at both the Delegate and Senator level with many good discussions of how current policy and upcoming legislation effect each institution in a different way. "I believe the day was a success in opening the door of communication between the General Assembly and all of the schools in the state," said Andrew Harvey Co-Chair of the Tri-State Federal Relations Committee. Additionally, members of the joint committee were able to return to Annapolis on March 28th to meet with the Maryland Secretary of Education and the Chair of the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

Following the great day of visits in Annapolis, the Tri-State Federal Relations Committee was joined by follow EASFAA Federal Relations Committee members to promote the concerns of our students at the Federal level on Capitol Hill. The goal of the visit to Capitol Hill was to share with the unique perspectives and knowledge of the front-line aid administrator. "We really want our representatives in Congress to feel they can come directly to us with any legislation that may impact higher education" a committee member said. During this visit Financial aid Professionals from the committee and executive board paid visits to the members of both the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee (HELP), House Education & Workforce Committee and members of both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations.

"The experience of engaging in a point on conversations with Congressional Legislative aides who know financial aid policy is not only enlightening but encouraging for the future of our students," said Angie Hovatter, Director of Financial Aid at Frostburg State University. "I was thoroughly impressed with the level of understanding the Congressional Legislative Aides had about financial aid and the policies surrounding it. The Aides are pushing for policies to better serve our students and were warmly welcoming to our suggestions." The congressional staff members and legislative aides were presented a position paper written by Jennifer Sandler (St. John's College) and members of the committee. The document discussed the several concerns: 1) Making the Higher Education Act Reauthorization a Priority; 2) Preventing oversimplification in the Federal Student Aid Application process; 3) the benefits of campus based programs and subsidized loans as tools of access for students; and 4) Strengthening Borrower and Institution Protections within the Direct Loan Program. "The mood on Capitol Hill was very optimistic that Re-authorization would happen in 2017. "Many of the staffers we visited were interested in what we thought of financial literacy programs and how information could be better delivered to students. They were very passionate about their work and were very eager to hear what we had to say," said Meredith Schor, Director of Financial Aid at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science. "It was a very positive hill visit and I was happy to contribute to the policy work being done by the Tri-State ASFAA and EASFAA. Committee members made suggestions to the legislators on ways additional steps could be instituted to help students through the collegiate experience and aid student in better repayment," remarked a committee member. "I appreciate the willingness of the legislative aides to meet and be open to hearing our 'boots on the ground approach' and hope that our thoughts and ideas are taken seriously when they sit down to draft legislation and reauthorize the Higher Education Act" said Aristea Williams, Director of Financial Aid for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Many legislative aides were college students in the not too distant past and remember the concerns and hardships they had with the aid process. Andrew Harvey, Financial Aid Counselor at Garrett College said "you may not think that visiting Capitol Hill impacts Garrett College, but connecting with our representatives in Congress is a key way to ensure that the financial aid process remains usable and viable for the present and future students."



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