Nearly 150 high school counselors, college admission professionals, community-based organization leaders, and other advocates will arrive in Washington, DC this weekend for NACAC’s annual Advocacy Meeting.
During this two-day event, attendees will learn more about student-to-counselor ratios in their states, the status of state and federal financial aid, and the economic impact of international and DACA students. The event will also feature talks from a Virginia state legislator and from a staff member of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
On Monday, attendees will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their elected officials and Congressional staff to advocate for NACAC’s policy priorities, including:
School Counseling. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and NACAC recommend a student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1. In the 2015-16 academic year, the national average ratio was 470:1. Furthermore, public school counselors report spending only 21 percent of their time on postsecondary admission counseling. #NACACHillDay attendees will advocate for lower ratios, increased funding, and improved professional development for school counselors.
Rigorous Curriculum. More than 80 percent of admission professionals say that a student’s strength of curriculum is of “considerable” or “moderate” importance in admission decisions. However, low-income students are less likely to have access to such curricula, and white students are nearly twice as likely as black students to be enrolled in at least one AP class. During their Congressional meetings, Advocacy Meeting attendees will advocate for all students to have equitable access to rigorous coursework in high school.
Need-Based Financial Aid. For many students and families, affording college is becoming increasingly more difficult. State and federal disinvestment in higher education funding has placed the burden of paying for college more squarely on the shoulders of students. #NACACHillDay attendees will encourage their elected officials to increase funding for federal need-based financial aid and to support efforts to simplify the FAFSA.
Student Protections. Some unscrupulous institutions of higher education – frequently, though not exclusively, those in the for-profit sector – employ predatory recruitment practices that target students who are often most vulnerable to such deceit. Students enrolled at for-profit institutions account for just over 10 percent of all postsecondary enrollments, but over 40 percent of student loan defaults. Despite these metrics, for-profit institutions still benefit from receiving tax-payer funded financial aid. Advocacy Meeting attendees will urge their Members of Congress during their Hill meetings on Monday to protect students and taxpayers by supporting efforts to reign in these unscrupulous institutions.
Undocumented Students. Legal challenges to the September 2017 announced rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continue to leave DACA-eligible and other undocumented individuals in limbo. Furthermore, undocumented students are ineligible to receive federal student aid – this lack of financial support often puts higher education out of reach for these students. #NACACHillDay attendees will encourage their elected officials to support legislation that would help make higher education accessible and affordable for these students.
The advocates in attendance will touch on these topics and other important issues, including international student mobility, school safety, and more. Be sure to follow @NACACWonk and #NACACHillDay for updates, and tune in to Facebook Live at 9:45 am ET for a live broadcast of the “Counselors and Financial Aid in Your State” panel, with NACAC research associate Pooja Patel and Stephanie Giesecke, the director of budget and appropriations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Julie Kirk is NACAC’s government relations manager. She can be reached at email@example.com.
A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finds that many qualified student borrowers have been delayed, or even denied, access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.
The program, a Department of Education initiative, allows borrowers to have their federal student loans forgiven after making 120 eligible payments over the course of 10 years working in eligible public service careers.
Yet despite meeting all eligibility requirements, the CFPB found that some borrowers have spent years paying into the program without receiving their promised loan relief.
After last month’s successful Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, advocacy efforts within many NACAC affiliates are on the rise.
Over the past several months, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee have hosted SACAC legislative days. Because SACAC is a regional affiliate, advocacy days take place in specific states, allowing members to meet with their own legislators and impact students where they live.
NACAC CEO Joyce Smith sent the following message to members last week:
I have seen a number of accounts about anxiety in our schools, colleges, and communities following the election, and I’ve heard from many of you who are asking about NACAC’s response.
As the dust settles from one of the most contentious presidential races in our history, concerns have emerged about the future of programs and initiatives that promote equal access to higher education, as well as the safety and security of the students we serve.