Students from across the state are gathering in Albany today to encourage elected officials to commit more resources to student financial aid programs.
The lobbying effort is being launched amid concerns that college is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Student Aid Alliance Advocacy Day aims to put faces to the people who benefit from state education initiatives.
The state’s Tuition Assistance Program is a key focus of the annual event. Advocates would like to see TAP expanded.
Some students will also urge state lawmakers to take steps to make sure that students who attend private colleges and universities receive adequate assistance at a time when officials are considering a plan to provide free tuition to income-eligible students at SUNY and CUNY schools.
Jeffrey Spencer is studying economics and finance at Canisius College. He’s among several Canisius students who trekked to Albany. Spencer believes that grassroots lobbying efforts can be effective.
“ I believe in a democratic process," he told WBFO. "I think when hundreds, potentially thousands, of students will be in Albany, and assemblymen see students in front of them and hear their stories and hear what kind of impact they’ve had at their respective institutions, I think that will leave an impact."
Spencer and other students believe that increasing the limit on TAP assistance would be an enormous help in an era when many people are coping with crushing student loan debt.
“That would kind of allow more students more choice with respect to where they go to get their education,” he said.
WBFO's Marwan Elbliety contributed to this report.