Last week in Washington, D.C., Florida College Access Network met with Florida members of Congress and their staff to discuss the importance of financial aid policies that can help make college possible for all Florida students.
FCAN’s Troy Miller and Amy Bolick sat down with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor; Eduardo “Ted” Sacasa, legislative aide to Sen. Marco Rubio; and Ken Clifford, legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, to discuss the need to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and strengthen the Pell Grant.
Need-based aid is a vital resource for low- and middle-income students looking to attend a postsecondary institution. For instance, in Florida alone, over 517,000 students receive $1.89 billion in Pell Grants each year. But unfortunately, there are many more Florida students who never receive the financial aid they need because the FAFSA is complicated and burdensome.
During the meetings, FCAN shared promising policies that can help our students navigate the financial aid process and receive money to help them attend college and reduce debt. These policies include streamlining the form for low- and middle-income students and tying the Pell Grant to the cost of inflation so the award grows with the economy.
FCAN also discussed Florida’s state and local efforts to help students complete the FAFSA (including the Florida FAFSA Challenge), as well as how FCAN’s partners, including local college access networks throughout Florida, are working together to increase postsecondary access and attainment.
From left to right: Troy Miller and Amy Bolick with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor; Ted Sacasa, legislative aide to Sen. Marco Rubio; and Ken Clifford, legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney
The meetings are part of an effort led by National College Access Network to expand state and federal policy and advocacy initiatives related to student success. FCAN is one of 17 NCAN members receiving support and training as a part of the initiative.
FCAN’s visit marked a particularly busy week for Congress, which faced a deadline to pass a spending plan by March 23. A $1.3 trillion omnibus bill passed on Friday, which keeps the government funded through September and includes increases to federal financial aid programs. According to NCAN, the Pell Grant, Work Study, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), TRIO programs and GEAR UP all received funding increases. NCAN commented that the appropriation “is a step forward in the continuing climb to make college more affordable for American families.”
To learn more or get involved in FCAN’s federal advocacy efforts, contact Troy Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.