Students rally for financial aid in Albany


To help raise awareness for student financial aid funding, University students visited Albany, the capital of New York State, on Feb. 12 to participate in the annual rally known as “Student Advocacy Day.”

More than 1,000 students from across the state participated in the event, which was organized by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. According to the event’s official website the day “is an opportunity for New York State students, faculty, financial aid and opportunity program administrators and other staff, as well as legislators, higher education policymakers and staff to come together to show support for student aid funding and higher education.”

“We made sure to emphasize that we were thankful, but also need them to keep working hard for us,” Donya Nasser, secretary of the College Democrats said.

This was the 10th year students from the University attended the rally, according to Brian Browne, assistant vice president of government relations.

Upon arrival students attended the rally followed by a tour of the Capitol.

Students also had the opportunity, to talk directly to representatives about the importance of student aid.

“Members of the New York State Legislature get to hear student’s personal stories of the impact and importance of supporting student financial aid programs,” Browne said.

Representatives included State Assembly members Nily Rozic, David Weprin, Mike Dendekker, Matthew Titone and New York State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jack Martins as well as staff members from the offices of New York State Senators Toby Stavisky and Diane Savino.

“All but two of the students were New York residents, so they really understood the importance of those state grants and scholarships,” Nasser said.

Nasser, who hopes to be a politician one day, took the trip to get a better understanding of state politics to ensure that she was choosing the right career path.

“The New York legislature is constantly criticized,” she said,” I wanted to understand why they perceive it that way.”

Not all attendees were studying to enter the political field. Biology and education majors were also among students traveling to Albany.

All students did share the desire to urge their representatives for continued support of student financial aid. “The group as a whole wanted to take part in student advocacy day and let it be known to their local assembly members and state senators that they appreciate their hard work,” said Nasser.

“This year the New York State budget proposes level funding for programs like TAP (Tuition Assistance Program),” Browne said.

“By going to Albany for the day students get the chance to say “Thank You” for supporting opportunity programs and to remind our electedadvocate for and to protect student financial aid as the annual state budget negotiations continue.”