We Want Support: UC students advocate for financial aid


Photo by Kevin Montano.

James McClendon, Asst. Staff Writer

Governor Cuomo released the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and there was continued support for New York State sponsored financial aid programs like the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), The New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP). However, the proposal excludes students at private institutions from benefiting from programs like the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive program and the Master’s in Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program.

Utica College sent students to Albany to participate in Student Advocacy Day on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The event started at 9:15 a.m. and was scheduled to last until 2 p.m.

The students arrived at the Legislative Office Building “Well” located in the Empire State Plaza. They went through the registration process and waited for the Advocacy Day overview and remarks to begin.

After the introductions, the next portion of the day was for students and alumni to speak out and tell their stories.

The trip concluded with scheduled student and legislator appointments where students met face-to-face with state legislators to tell their educational stories and explain why state-funded student aid programs have been and continue to be so important to their educational experience.

Students also made the trip to thank legislators for their continued support of financial aid programs and to encourage them to push for inclusion of private institutions in programs offered to state schools.

The trip will be co-sponsored by the office of President Hutton and the Student Senate.

Utica College Assistant Vice President of Advertising/Marketing and Communication Kelly Adams accompanied the students on this trip. Adams said the trip was a huge success.

“We had 17 students on the trip, who did a phenomenal job representing Utica College and advocating for student aid funding,” Adams said.

According to Adams, the 17-student delegation was one of the largest in attendance.

The student advocates received face time with Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and Senator Joseph Griffo. They also met with UC alumni Dwight Evans and John Casellini. Evans is the Chief of Staff for Griffo and Casellini is the president of the government relations firm Way and Means NY.

UC’s dean of students, Dr. Robert Perkins, attended Student Advocacy Day in 2015. Perkins along with about 12 students, met with local legislators as well as sit on the floor to watch the proceedings. The group also took a tour of the capitol after the meetings.

“It was really pretty impressive,” Perkins said. “I think the students that went got a great deal out of it.”

Perkins said the 2015 delegation was one of the largest in attendance and expected the 2016 trip to surpass those numbers. His expectations were satisfied with the 17 students who made their way to the capitol.

The students who went on the trip were given breakfast and lunch and returned back to campus at 5 p.m. after their long day in the Capitol.

Featured Image: Photo by Kevin Montano