OSLA rallies students for financial aid

OSLA RALLYThe Office of Student Legislative Affairs (OSLA) has helped organize a rally in Olympia to oppose Gov. Christine Gregoire’s proposal to further cut higher education funding and financial aid.

“The most effective way America can weather the current economic storm and emerge stronger is through investing in higher education,” said Marcus Sweetser, Director of Legislative Affairs at Bellevue College.

OSLA will take BC students to the state capitol where they will gather with students from other community colleges to tell legislators their personal stories of how funding cuts directly affects them.

The proposed state budget released by the governor severely decreases funding for financial aid and eliminates 12,300 students from the program entirely.

Some students will receive less funding for financial aid, and many students who received financial aid in the past may not receive it in the future, due to the governor’s budget proposal.

“Mitigating economic shortfalls on the backs of students by shifting the cost of college away from the state and onto working families is a shallow solution to a deep financial problem. Instead, the government should be investing in students, ensuring that it is Washingtonians that help meet President Barack Obama’s goal of having the United States produce more college graduates than any other country by 2020,” said Sweetser.

The budget also proposed a $90 million cut for higher education funding, which is a major contributing factor for tuition increases students can expect in the coming years.

The cuts mean that more students will have to take out student loans for college and will end up with significant debt after graduating and entering the workforce.

“Not only are a majority of young people buried under mountains of student loan or credit card debt, this generation could actually end up as the first generation in a hundred years to be worse off financially than their parents were.  There is no doubt we will be less educated,” said Sweetser.

Students who are already in enrolled in college are not the only ones affected by state funding cuts. A significant amount of students do not pursue higher education specifically because of financial reasons.

“The fact is that a great many gifted and motivated young people are excluded from college for no other reason than their inability to pay,” said Sweetser. “The open door offered to lower and middle class America through obtaining a higher education has been closed.” 

The rally is an opportunity for students to get involved as a community to oppose the legislation that cuts funding and financial aid.

The rally will be held on Monday Jan. 25. Students can sign up at the Student Programs front desk in room C212. Buses will be provided to transport students to the state capitol.

“Don’t pass up your opportunity to be heard and to make a difference.  Students have historically been the catalyst for change in this country, and we need to reclaim that role in Washington State,” said Sweetser.