News: NCAN News

NCAN Members Advocate to Great Success

Monday, October 28, 2019  
Posted by: Raymond AlQaisi, Policy and Advocacy Manager
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Reminder: You can now apply for the next cohort of Member Advocacy Grants. The application deadline is Nov. 5.

Over the past two years, a geographically diverse group of NCAN members participated in a dedicated opportunity to increase their advocacy capacity and engagement. The grant-funded opportunity facilitated the organizations to actively engage in policy discussions; five members engaged in both federal and state policy, four focused on solely on federal policy, and eight focused on state policy.

Collectively, these grantees conducted hundreds of meetings with federal and state policymakers to provide issue education on subjects such as the importance of closing equity gaps in postsecondary attainment. During this period, these grantees also expanded their advocacy capacity, developed policy agendas, published public opinion pieces, and organized students to engage with their legislators. Their advocacy efforts helped produce tremendous policy developments to improve students’ ability to access, afford, and succeed in college; thus, this short write-up is by no means exhaustive of all their accomplishments.

NCAN commends these members on their great successes.

Federal Policy and Advocacy Highlights

At the federal level, members developed thoughtful relationships with their representatives in Congress and advocated for crucial policy priorities, such as the need to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and increased investment in a robust Pell Grant program. These members include:

  • The College Crusade of Rhode Island.
  • College Forward (Texas).
  • College Possible (Minnesota).
  • College Success Arizona.
  • College Success Foundation (Washington, D.C.).
  • Florida College Access Network.
  • The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis (Missouri).
  • Tennessee College Access & Success Network.
  • uAspire (Massachusetts).

For example, three grantees were invited to testify to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as expert witnesses on FAFSA simplification and financial aid offers. Additionally, Andrew Bramson of College Crusade participated in a negotiated rulemaking process led by the U.S. Department of Education, on a subcommittee that considered changes to the GEAR UP program.

During the two years of the advocacy grant, there was an increase to the maximum Pell Grant award and the office of Federal Student Aid made improvements to the FAFSA verification process.

See all of the student story videos from NCAN's 2019 Hill Day advocacy event in Washington, D.C.

State-Level Policy and Advocacy Successes

At the state level, grantees advanced policies to promote college access and success through issue education with their governors and state legislators. Members, including Alabama Possible, Florida College Access Network, Goddard Riverside Community Center (New York), Michigan College Access Network, and the Southern California College Access Network, advocated for a state attainment goal for college completion. Alabama and Florida now have a statewide attainment goal to increase the number of their residents with a valuable credential, with consideration to equitably supporting students who face barriers to attainment. Also, 10,000 Degrees (California) and College Forward (Texas) drove student-centered advocacy campaigns to make the completion of the FAFSA (or state aid application) a requirement for high school graduation. Texas has since mandated such a requirement.

Grantees also advocated for greater state support for students via need-based aid; these members include:

  • College Horizons (New Mexico).
  • College Now Greater Cleveland (Ohio).
  • College Success Foundation (Washington).
  • Michigan College Access Network.
  • Montana College Access Network.
  • Tennessee College Access & Success Network.
  • The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.

For example, during this time, Montana, Ohio, and Washington State all saw sizable increases in funding for their need-based aid programs. In Washington, the state enacted the Workforce Education Investment Act, which dedicated greater funding for the state’s need-based aid program, the Washington College Grant. In Montana, the state provided additional funding for need-based aid for low-income students. In Ohio, the state’s need-based grant, the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, received a significant increase in the 2020-21 state budget.

These policy developments at the federal and state level will greatly benefit students’ prospects for attending, affording, and succeeding in postsecondary education. If you would like to be a part in the next wave of NCAN-supported advocacy efforts, apply for a Member Advocacy Grant today.