Cabrini students who receive the PHEAA grant may be faced with difficult choices as a result of the emerging student aid crisis due to the PHEAA grant loss of at least $40 million in PHEAA earnings next year.
Mary Maronic, Foundation and Government Relations Associate for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, urges students to get involved in student lobbying: “Make phone calls to hometown legislators and college legislators. They need to know how much this cutback is effecting the students.”
“With the worsening credit crunch, it may become more difficult for students to borrow money to make up for this loss. In the current year, 455 Cabrini students receive PHEAA grants based on financial need with an average award of $3,520, which represents over $1.5 million in grant funds,” Michael Colahan, director of financial aid, said.
As of April 8, 2008, student grants may be reduced by as much as $700 per recipient in 08-09, according to Mary Young, vice president of government relations for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.
PHEAA is contributing $69 million of its earnings to help supplement the state’s $386 million appropriation, according to Young.
Due to changes in federal law and turmoil in financial markets caused by the national sub prime mortgage crisis, funding for PHEAA may not be available.
According to Young, Governor Rendell proposed a 3 percent increase, $11.6 million, for the State Grant Program. An insufficient amount to cover the reduction in student’s grants in the next academic year.
The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania is hoping to increase the amount by 10 percent to $38.6 million to keep it similar with the current grant levels this year.
After working on this student lobbying for about a year now since the February budget was released, on April 8th, AICUP had a major student lobby day involving over 35 colleges and 200 students in front of legislators.
“We were able to show the faces of these students who are effected,” Maronic said.
The lobby day was effective because the students were able to demonstrate the need for this grant to their legislators.
Maronic gave suggestions on how Cabrini can help in student lobbying.
“Presidents of colleges can write to the legislators. Leadership endorsing letters and ones that will back the students.”
Maronic also suggests going to www.legis.state.pa.us and contacting state Senators and House members.
June 30th, 2008, is when the budget will be passed.