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Students advocate on Beacon Hill for need-based financial aid programs

Students meet with Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives

CSSH students were part of a group of Northeastern students who met privately with Robert DeLeo, BA'72, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, during Student Financial Aid Day at the Massachusetts State House on Wednesday, February 25.

Finan­cial aid has trans­formed Leticia DoPrado’s life, pro­viding her the oppor­tu­nity to attend col­lege, do co-​​op, and dis­cover her pas­sion for global talent man­age­ment and employee development.

If not for need-​​based state and fed­eral financial-​​aid pro­grams, she would not have been able to transfer to North­eastern in the fall of 2012. If not for financial-​​aid pro­grams, she would not be a fourth-​​year psy­chology major with a career plan and two co-​​ops under her belt—one at the Arbour Hos­pital, in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neigh­bor­hood, where she worked as a mental health asso­ciate, the other at TJX Com­pa­nies, where she served as the global talent man­age­ment research analyst.

Finan­cial aid helped me create dreams and then helped me achieve those dreams,” says DoPrado, S’15. “If it wasn’t for finan­cial aid, I would most likely be cleaning houses with my mother.”

DoPrado—and a cohort of her North­eastern peers—discussed the life-​​changing value of finan­cial aid during Stu­dent Finan­cial Aid Day at the Mass­a­chu­setts State House on Wednesday after­noon, meeting with state sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives to advo­cate con­tinued sup­port of need-​​based finan­cial aid programs.

The Asso­ci­a­tion of Inde­pen­dent Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties in Mass­a­chu­setts orga­nized the pro­gram, which drew some 200 stu­dents from 40 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties throughout the state. Northeastern’s Gov­ern­ment Rela­tions and Stu­dent Finan­cial Ser­vices offices helped the stu­dents pre­pare for the event, as part of the university’s ongoing com­mit­ment to pro­tect need-​​based state and fed­eral aid for higher education.

North­eastern pro­vided a record $221.4 mil­lion in insti­tu­tional grants—not loans—for stu­dents in the 2014–2015 aca­d­emic year, including need-​​based aid and other schol­ar­ships. Over the past six years, the uni­ver­sity has increased finan­cial aid at a rate more than double that of tuition.

James Mar­lowe, SSH’16, noted that his finan­cial aid package played a vital role in his ability to transfer to North­eastern in the fall of 2013. “I could not have done this without the gen­erosity of the finan­cial aid depart­ment,” says Mar­lowe, a fourth-​​year polit­ical sci­ence major. “They were knowl­edge­able, pas­sionate, and eager to help me with all my needs.”

When his dad passed away last year, North­eastern reeval­u­ated his finan­cial aid package and pro­vided him with a response grant to con­tinue studying at the uni­ver­sity. “North­eastern was there for me,” he says. “Words cannot mea­sure the appre­ci­a­tion I had for the uni­ver­sity staff during my time of grieving.”

In the summer of 2014, he took advan­tage of the university’s co-​​op pro­gram and started working for the Mass­a­chu­setts Firearms Record Bureau. The co-​​op, which gave him the oppor­tu­nity to col­lab­o­rate with local police depart­ments and fed­eral agen­cies, sparked his interest in working for the CIA. His more imme­diate plans include enrolling in Northeastern’s Secu­rity and Resilience Studies master’s pro­gram, which dove­tails with his pro­fes­sional interests.

All of this, he says, would not have been pos­sible without finan­cial aid. On Wednesday, he, DoPrado, and their peers thanked law­makers for their con­tin­uing efforts to increase funding for state finan­cial aid. Last year, law­makers voted to increase by $3 mil­lion the state’s funding of col­lege grants and scholarships.

I was thrilled to have the oppor­tu­nity to finally say ‘thank you,’” DoPrado says. “I felt that it was my duty to tell my story to sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives, hoping it would enhance their under­standing of the impor­tance of finan­cial aid in the lives of thou­sands of stu­dents who have great potential.”

– By Jason Kornwitz

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