Ryan O’Toole, FCLC ’12 and president of USG, said “Its an issue that USG cares very deeply about, and we’re fighting for it, but this is so much bigger than just us and Fordham. It not only affects current Fordham students, it affects prospective students and every student across the nation.”
O’Toole said that if student aid does get cut, it will have a snowball affect. He said, “It is important even if you don’t get federal aid. If you get aid from Fordham at all, and federal aid gets cut, then Fordham has to then provide its limited aid to the students that need it the most.”
“We’ve collaborated with Rose Hill’s USG to create a joint resolution that will support federal student aid,” O’Toole said. A letter was mailed to all professors and all club leaders at both campuses asking them to pass the information along to the students in classes and organizations. Faculty and staff can also sign the petition, which is available online.
“We wanted to do this as a bi-campus effort because it is important to speak as one university,” O’Toole said. “When we unite as one student body, we have a lot more power and more voices.”
Lesley Massiah, associate vice president for government relations and urban affairs, said, “One thing we were successful in doing is ensuring that at least 17 billion were put back into the Pell program. However, there is still going to be a shortage.” Massiah said that the Super Committee has given a deadline of Nov. 23 to determine additional educational cuts.
According to Massiah, financial grants such as the Pell Grant have suffered a loss of 1.3 billion dollars. The Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program, could face cuts in the coming months as well. As a result, shortages of cash for the Pell and SEOG are expected in 2012-2013.
Many at Fordham were disappointment that financial aid for graduate students were cut, but were thankful that the cuts stopped there and that the Pell Grant program received additional funding. Not only that, the student work study program at FCLC has also suffered a reduction.
Katharine Michaels, FCLC ’14, said that she hopes work study does not get affected because it is a great opportunity to gain work experience during the school year. “It provides a lot of experience because any student working a job gives you the chance to manage your finances, gain clerical skills, be in a working environment and you can learn how to be professional while you are studying.”
According to the class of 2015 profile provided by enrollment services, 88 percent of students received financial assistance or scholarship. Ashley Misir, FCLC ’15, said that financial aid is one of the main reasons why she is able to attend Fordham. “Without it, I would not be able to pay the tuition,” she said.
“Part of Fordham University’s mission is give aid to students no matter their ethnicity or origins. It’s what the school believes in,” Massiah said. According to Massiah, if these cuts go through, FCLC students will allow other people to determine their future in college. Higher education provides opportunities for jobs and social mobility.
O’Toole said that USG will be tabling on the plaza from now until Nov. 22, the last day before Thanksgiving break. “Not every student is involved in a club so we will be tabling on the plaza to talk and engage students so they are informed to sign the ‘Save Student Aid’ petition.” He said that the information was also distributed to Res Life so that the Resident Assistants can pass the information along to residents during their floor meetings.
According to O’ Toole, Massiah will provide postcards available during the tabling where students can fill out either a pre-written postcard that will be sent to Senator Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, or write their own message to their respective home representative. Massiah said that their elected official can be looked up online at www.senate.gov.
O’ Toole said that USG will hold a rally on the outdoor Plaza during the last days leading up to Nov. 22. “We’re hoping that through all of these approaches, we’ll be able to reach out to every student.”