Submitted December 2019 by Mark Bandre’, Committee Co-chair
For many years, KASFAA members have worked through the association to facilitate communication about the financial aid profession and industry with state and federal legislators. Without a doubt, NASFAA serves the primary role in all forms of educating our national political leaders about financial aid, but it is important informed facts, views and opinions come forth from the state level as well. Members of your KASFAA Government Relations Committee take the lead in communicating with state legislators while also striving to provide information back to the membership when unique legislative issues arise. Doing so exists through yearly efforts to establish and celebrate Financial Aid Awareness Month, through email and blog posts to KASFAA members, and through occasional communication with individual legislators or members of their staffs.
Clearly state-funded forms of aid pale in comparison to those offered by the federal government, but in these days of ever-increasing charges for tuition, fees, room and board, it remains important for us to keep the issue of college affordability at the top of Topeka discussion lists. KASFAA members possess unique knowledge and stories about how students and families strive to attain the financial investment in education and we can all also relay information about those who simply cannot find a way to handle the costs. A session at the recent RMASFAA conference provided information about ways prospective students who have come of age in the foster care system may qualify for Education and Training Vouchers (ETVs). These programs are unique state by state and in Kansas, it appears foster care financial aid programs specifically for use towards higher education are minimal. As we discuss issues such as students coming from foster care, state residency, tuition rates for undocumented students, the value diverse forms of higher education bring to the State of Kansas, and so much more, it is important we consistently remember those least able to afford educational training.
Regardless of whether a person pursues training through college, military, technical school or apprenticeship, funding and corresponding attributes need to factor in long-term benefits to individual and society. In his book, The World is Flat, author Thomas Friedman reminds readers of the importance of learning “how to learn – to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new ways of doing new things.” As we in the financial aid profession strive to help individuals, we must necessarily also be willing to advocate for mechanisms that enable all segments of the population to access the training needed. This is so because of the greater good brought about by the citizenry becoming prepared to serve their community in desired ways. As you consider daily realities of the higher education marketplace, remember your state, regional and national associations are involved in legislative educational endeavors. Be willing to share your opinion and be involved.