Goal 1: Advocate for Student Voices
College Affordability is an issue that can be advocated through all areas of the University structure. Through the legislature, we can ensure students are able to receive merit-based and need-based aid. Through the Board of Trustees, we are able to ensure tuition remains affordable for students of all backgrounds, and through other avenues, we can ensure students are receiving the appropriate resources for tuition and fees.
College affordability is one of the most prominent and important issues facing college students. Although its prominence can differ based on socioeconomic status, every student has a vested interest in tuition & fees, financial aid, nutritious and affordable food, financial literacy and budgeting, among other financial interests. Many financial issues facing students will be alleviated through the expansion of Bright Futures. Student Fees are an important aspect of tuition in the State University System. Especially in terms of the Student Government Association, the Activity & Service fee is one of the most important components that students pay. However, each fee and potential fee increases can become a “slippery slope”. Especially due to the growing need of mental health services on campus, it is important to continue to provide for the student body without increasing the fees that the student body pays.
As stated in the Initiative description, “College Affordability is an issue that can be advocated through all areas of the University structure.” The Executive Branch has taken a variety of steps in order to fully advocate for College Affordability and to best “ensure students are receiving the appropriate resources for tuition and fees.”
Through Federal Advocacy in October, the Executive Branch traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for an increase to Federal Financial Aid, including an increase to Pell Grant Funding, and Research Grants which in turn can pay for student work study and other on campus opportunities. Additionally, the Student Government Association was able to invite Congressman Lawson to host a roundtable with students to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for college-students, and to tour both the Professional Clothing Closet and the ‘Food for Thought’ Pantry.
Through Statewide Advocacy, the Student Government Association has continually advocated for student scholarships through the Florida Legislature including maintaining funding for Bright Futures and other scholarship programs, continuing to fund the HDGAP Scholarship for student-veterans initiated by FSU SGA OGA, as well as the expansion of new programs such as the Purple Heart Tuition Waiver, and the Open Educational Resources Grant Program. Through the advocacy efforts of other Student Governments in the State University System and FSU SGA, Representative Ponder filed HB 3419 for Food and Housing Insecurity.
On campus, the Student Government Association relaunched the Round-Up Campaign which goes directly towards the ‘Food for Thought’ Pantry in the Dean of Students Department. Additionally, the Executive Branch secured funding for the ‘Food for Thought’ Pantry through Bill 96 which passed the 71st Student Senate. More information on the Round-Up Campaign can be found on the Office of Business Services website at https://obs.fsu.edu/roundup.
The Local Fees Committee alongside the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Congress of Graduate Students advocated for an increase in Local Fees (Athletics Fee, Health Fee, and the Activity & Service Fee), which hasn’t been increased since 2012. Although an increase in Fees at first glance might seem to be in direct conflict with College Affordability, an increase actually helps the student body. An Increase of local fees results in an increase of resources at Florida State University including continuing access to free tickets through the Athletics Fee, enhanced services through Campus Recreation and the Oglesby Union, increased programmatic events including Concerts and Lectures through the Student Government Association, and more events with Free Food on campus through the Activity & Service Fee, as well as decreased wait times, and ensuring the University Counseling Center is able to retain counselors through the Health Fee.
Our Verified Status:
College affordability is an incredibly multifaceted issue that can be measured many ways. Therefore, credit will be given to any aspect that may make college more affordable, support low-income students, alleviate fees, or other as-of-yet unknown factors.
10/16/19 - Self-reported as complete
10/19/19 - Verification requested
11/4/19 - Response from Executive Cabinet at their weekly meeting, stating that "the advocacy has been completed and RoundUP FSU is renewed for another year."
In a meeting with the Executive Cabinet on 11/4/19, Student Body President Evan Steinberg claimed that the Office of Governmental Affairs has gone to Washington D.C. to an ACC conference, lobbying Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Among the topics of discussion were the expansion of pell grants, which Rubio has indicated an openness to, given his emphasis on college affordability reform. However, it is unclear exactly what has happened.
When pressed about how exactly SGA is able to say that College Affordability is "complete" when much of seems in progress, he said this: "What 'complete' means on our website is that the advocacy has been completed." While advocacy is necessary, the platform point of "college affordability" is not complete until college becomes marginally more affordable for certain, or all, students.
Other evidence brought forward by the Executive Cabinet was the re-introduction of RoundUP FSU, a philanthropic initiative, which benefits the Food for Thought Food Pantry, an absolutely crucial part of FSU's low-income support services. However, only so much credit can be given for simply continuing the same initiative.
As per the Executive Cabinet, the advocacy has been completed. This is a crucial step, so progress is indicated. But credit is given only for what affects the student. Showing results for those efforts, lobbying or otherwise, will yield an A grade. Similarly, expanding/funding the Food For Thought pantry will yield a higher grade.