Step 1: Know the Issues
How do you know what to advocate for or against? Becoming an informed advocate is key for success. Taking time to understand what is at stake will go a long way to further the cause. How do you find out what’s happening right now? Check out our blog and also check the NY Student Aid Alliance Facebook page. For federal updates visit: www.studentaidalliance.org. These sites will provide you up to date info and news concerning student aid issues.
Step 2: Find Your Elected Officials
Once you understand the issues and the timeframe, you will then need to find out the names of your elected officials. For students, alumni, and college and university staff, this means the officials who represent both where you live and also those who represent the district that your campus is in.
Find your officials by entering your address or zip code, at: http://capwiz.com/cicu/home/.
Other links to elected official information:
U.S. President: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
New York State Governor: http://www.governor.ny.gov/
New York State Senate: http://www.nysenate.gov/
New York State Assembly: http://assembly.state.ny.us/
New York State Congressional Delegation: http://www.ny.gov/congress_delegation.html
Step 3: Tell Your Story
To be a powerful advocate, the most important thing is to talk about is your personal story. Take some time to think about what student aid means to you and what student aid funding you currently receive. If you don’t know what aid you receive, you can check with your campus financial aid office. Then take the next step and share how state or federal aid programs are helping you to realize your college and professional dreams.
Step 4: Take Action
To take action, reach out to your elected officials through email, letters, phone calls and in person meetings. The opinions that count most to elected officials are those of the people who live in their district.
Using email advocacy, you can tell your story and let your legislators, as well as other legislators who serve on critical higher education committees, know how important student aid programs are to you. Students, parents, campus staff and supporters should take a few minutes to visit our e-Advocacy website and sign up so we can let you know when to share your story: NY Student Aid Alliance Action Center.
Write Letters & Make Phone Calls
Along with emails, personal letters and phone calls will also receive attention in both state and congressional offices. Letters and phone calls should be brief and concise. State your message clearly at the start of the letter or phone call ("I’m contacting you because I am a voter in your district and want you to support funding for student aid programs"). Then give the details of your personal story ("I am attending college today because of the student aid I receive"). Share your return address and don’t forget to offer your thanks at the end of the letter or phone call.
Visit Your Elected Officials
The action that will have the greatest impact is a visit with your legislator in Albany or Washington (or at their district offices). You will need to schedule a meeting with your legislator or staff members responsible for higher education issues in advance. Tips: be prepared with the issues and your own story; be brief (typical appointments are 15-20 minutes); follow-up with a note thanking your legislator or staff member for their time. You can also take advantage of the NYS Student Aid Advocacy Day to bring a group from your campus to Albany.
Step 5: Build a Community: Recruit Friends to Join the Alliance
The more voices that stand up and take action for student aid the better the chances of those voices being heard. We seek to build a community of students and supporters who are willing to stand up to keep student aid issues in the forefront of the minds of elected officials. Help us build a community of advocates by inviting your colleagues, friends and family to get involved. Click here to invite others to become involved with the New York Student Aid Alliance effort.