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USG takes fight for financial aid to Congress

Undergraduate Student Government members spoke with 10 members of Congress on the federal level to fight for affordable higher education. Twelve USG members traveled to Washington D.C. on March 1, and spent two days advocating for financial aid, particularly Pell Grants, for Ohio State.

“It’s important to remind our elected officials that we’re real people and we vote and the purpose of this was to make sure there were faces behind the number of people that go to Ohio State,” said Brad Pyle, USG vice president.

“The Pell Grant program went from a $17 billion program to a $40 billion program pretty much overnight,” said Stacy Rastauskas, assistant vice president for federal relations in OSU’s D.C. office. “The goal is to maintain the basis of the Pell Grant program.”

Students said the Congress needs to hear it directly from the students, Rastauskas said.

The USG members had conversation with OSU alumnus Congressman Steve Stivers about the issues at stake.

“I enjoyed meeting with students from Ohio State’s student government. We had a great conversation and I look forward to continuing to work with students on issues important to the university … I will do everything I can to support the highest level of Pell Grant funding, given our fiscal crisis,” Stivers said in an email.

The USG members were very well prepared and came to work, said Dick Stoddard, associate vice president for government affairs and special assistant to the president at OSU.

“Some students talked about their own personal experiences and that was very effective … they gave Congress a window of what it means to be a student now,” Stoddard said. “They were ready and they did it well.”

Currently, 13,000 OSU students rely on the Pell Grant.

“We went knowing that the state government was going to be cutting funding for Ohio State and we knew that the federal government would be considering cutting grants,” Pyle said. “The work of fighting for affordable schooling is something we have to keep fighting for and I think we did a good job of that.”

Congress is still debating the FY 2012 budget.

USG President Micah Kamrass said that although the trip had a budget of $4,500, USG spent only $2875.80 of USG’s operating funds.

“We’re very proud of how the trip went,” Kamrass said. “We’re one of the biggest universities in the country and we feel it’s important to advocate not just for Ohio State, but for students all over the country.”  

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