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Lobbying on Beacon Hill

Stanislas Phanord’s mother died in 2009, forcing him to take cus­tody of his younger brother.

If not for need-​​based state and fed­eral financial-​​aid pro­grams, he would not have had the oppor­tu­nity to become a third-​​year polit­ical sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs dual major at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. Instead, he would have had to con­tinue sup­porting his brother by bag­ging groceries.

“None of this would be pos­sible without finan­cial aid,” he explained, noting that his parental role has “encour­aged me to work harder.”

Phanord was among more than a half dozen North­eastern stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated in Stu­dent Finan­cial Aid Day at the State House on Tuesday after­noon. The Asso­ci­a­tion of Inde­pen­dent Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties in Mass­a­chu­setts orga­nized the pro­gram, which drew some 200 stu­dents from roughly three dozen col­lege and uni­ver­si­ties throughout the state.

The stu­dents criss­crossed the building, meeting with state sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives to push for con­tinued sup­port of need-​​based finan­cial aid pro­grams. Both Northeastern’s Gov­ern­ment Rela­tions and Stu­dent Finan­cial Ser­vices offices helped pre­pare the stu­dents for the event, as part of the university’s ongoing com­mit­ment to pro­tect need-​​based state and fed­eral aid for higher education.

Robert DeLeo, BA’72, Speaker of the Mass­a­chu­setts House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, met pri­vately with the North­eastern con­tin­gent. Prior to the meeting, he encour­aged all stu­dents in their Tuesday ses­sions with sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives to explain how finan­cial aid has affected their col­lege careers.

“Let them know what finan­cial aid means to you in terms of con­tin­uing your edu­ca­tion in Mass­a­chu­setts,” he told stu­dents, whom he referred to as “our future.” “The best lob­bying we can get is from hearing sto­ries about what this means to each and every one of you.”

North­eastern stu­dent Dylan O’Sullivan took DeLeo’s cue by dis­cussing the impor­tance of finan­cial aid with Senate Majority Whip Har­ri­ette L. Chandler.

Finan­cial aid helped the fourth-​​year polit­ical sci­ence major com­plete a co-​​op in Wash­ington, D.C., as a leg­isla­tive assis­tant for U.S. Rep. James McGovern of Mass­a­chu­setts, who sits on the House Com­mittee on Rules.

“I wouldn’t be at North­eastern if not for finan­cial aid,” O’Sullivan told Chan­dler. “I have three younger sib­lings who want to go to col­lege, so I think it’s some­thing that needs to continue.”

Chan­dler empathized with O’Sullivan’s call to pre­serve funding for finan­cial aid, noting, “I could not have grad­u­ated from col­lege without it.”

“We’re the edu­ca­tion state,” she added. “If we don’t [sup­port] it, then who will?”

– by Jason Kornwitz

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