The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday June 26th

ASG leaders to lobby for higher education in Washington, D.C.

As future budget cuts loom, student leaders are hoping to persuade federal legislators to spare higher education.

The Association of Student Governments is planning to travel to Washington, D.C., in late February to raise awareness for the financial need of students in the UNC system.

“The need for promoting higher education is extremely grave,” said Christine Hajdin, the vice president of the association’s legislative and public affairs committee.

The trip is estimated to cost the group $4,000, which will include the travel costs and hotel fees for the group, she said.

But Hajdin said the group’s plans are not definite because of monetary concerns.

“Cost is always an issue,” she said. “We are trying to be as aware as possible with how we are spending.”

She said she also wants to make sure that the student group would represent the 220,000 students in the system well.

The association is composed of student leaders from across the state and is funded by an annual $1 student fee, which covers travel costs and stipends for officers.

Hajdin said the goal of the trip —which will be funded by the association’s budget — is to lobby for more funding for education, including protecting research grants to schools and Pell grants.

The group will try to meet with education advocacy groups, members of the federal education committee and N.C. legislators, she said.

Kimrey Rhinehardt, vice president for federal relations of the UNC system, thinks the group could have an impact.

“(Lobbying the government) is a good practice — folks that are the most affected are the best advocates,” she said.

Atul Bhula, the association’s president, said education is important to economic development.

“We hope to preserve the financial aid perspective of students,” Bhula said.

Rhinehardt said she supports the association’s goals to lobby policy makers’ decisions.

“Students are directly affected by changes in federal financial aid policy and, in this fiscal environment — it is important now more than ever,” Rhinehardt said in an email.

The advocacy trip to the nation’s capital is not the first. In 2009, ASG members met with members of U.S. Congress to lobby for higher education, said former ASG President Greg Doucette.


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