Invite your members of Congress to campus, along with the staff responsible for higher education issues, and show them the human face of student aid.
A campus visit is an effective way to show your senators and representatives how the student aid programs make a difference to their constituents. Members of Congress are usually very interested in meeting the people whose lives are affected by their votes — and when they do, the experience often remains with them for many years.
Meet Aid Recipients
Invite the members to meet students who receive federal student aid. Include a financial aid officer, who can answer any technical questions.
Give the students an opportunity to tell their stories. Hearing them will give the members a concrete reference point to use when aid programs are being debated in Congress. They can tell their colleagues, “I visited with a student who works 30 hours a week and attends school full-time. Increasing the funding for proven student aid programs will help fulfill our commitment to society that all qualified students can afford to pursue a college degree.”
Schedule Meetings with the President and Financial Aid
Working through the president’s office, schedule a meeting with members of Congress. A personal relationship between the president and the legislators is one of the most valuable advocacy tools you can have.
Host a Campus Forum
Ask your member of Congress, local business leaders, the president of your institution, the financial aid administrator, and students to be on the panel. Advertise the event on campus, and ask local papers to post it in the community calendar. Topics for the forum could include the impact of the college on the local economy (job training, employment, cultural opportunities), the proposals before Congress to raise funding for student aid programs, and the impact such an investment would have on students at your institution.
Hold a Rally
Invite your members of Congress to address the students. This gives them an opportunity to speak about issues before Congress, and gives students a chance to advocate for student aid.
When you invite a member of Congress to campus, it is critical to begin planning well in advance. Getting them to attend depends on your level of organization. Members are very busy, and their schedules fill up rapidly.
Contact the member’s district office and ask to speak with the scheduler. Make the invitation, then follow up with a confirmation letter. Be prepared to be flexible on the date, and plan for last-minute cancellations — the legislative calendar often changes with little notice.