A.S. backs USSA in effort to renew HEA

In a show of support for the United States Student Association’s lobbying efforts for the Higher Education Act reauthorization, the A.S. Council unanimously passed a resolution on Feb. 5 endorsing and pledging participation in the USSA’s “”H.E.A.R. Students! Access Now!”” campaign.

Enacted in 1965, the HEA established programs and authorized federal involvement in higher education intended to “”strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students.”” Congress last amended the HEA in 1998, and will review the act again this year.

The USSA campaign calls for amendments to the HEA that will increase the number and amount of student grants, protect outreach programs and lower student loan debts.

Specifically, the USSA is calling for a full repeal of a provision enacted in 1998’s HEA reauthorization that denies federal financial aid eligibility to students convicted of “”possession or sale of a controlled substance.””

According to a “”H.E.A.R. Students!”” campaign fact sheet, the provision “”disproportionately affects the access of low-income students and students of color to financial aid … and tries people twice who have already paid their debt to society.””

The USSA is also urging Congress to make federal Pell Grants an entitlement, and to implement student loan forgiveness.

The resolution reads that the A.S. Council “”will participate in collecting signed postcards and letters to lobby elected representatives and contacting district representatives.””

“”We will be taking our postcards to Washington, D.C.,”” said A.S. Vice President Internal Kevin Hsu, who submitted the resolution. The USSA is scheduled to hold a national student lobbying conference from March 7 to March 11 in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to implement the recommendations.

According to a USSA “”H.E.A.R. Students!”” fact sheet, the USSA’s lobbying efforts leading up to the 1998 reauthorization of the HEA helped secure student loan interest rate reduction, as well as the founding of such outreach programs as Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.