Students Set to Rally for Financial Aid

As both houses of Congress continue to include student aid cuts among measures to reduce the federal deficit, more than 1,000 Massachusetts college students are set to hold a protest rally tomorrow against the billion-dollar cuts.

The state-wide rally will be held at 11 a.m. at Boston's Government Center. Harvard organizers are encouraging students who plan to attend to gather at the Harvard T station at 10 a.m.

"The purpose of the rally is to object to the outrage of students in Massachusetts against the proposed financial aid cuts," said Derek T. Ho '96, president of the Harvard-Radcliffe College Democrats.

The United States Senate has approved a federal budget which could cut $5 billion in guaranteed student loans in order to eliminate the federal budget deficit by the year 2002.

The House of Representatives had earlier proposed eliminating $10.2 billion in loans.


Ho said that because of the Senate's decision to restore half of the funds originally cut from the loan program, rally speakers will focus on bringing the House in line with the Senate.

He noted, however, that even the Senate's cuts are unacceptable.

Tomorrow's rally is sponsored by the Coalition to Save Student Aid, a group supported by schools throughout the state, according to Eric D. Albert '98, treasurer and co-founder of the Progressive Action Network (PAN).

Albert said that the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group predicts the that more than 1,000 students will attend the rally.

He said the rally will serve to focus attention on the decisions about student aid and to make students aware of the threatened cuts.

Most of the organizational work for the rally is being done by smaller schools outside Boston, Ho said, but much of the grass-roots work the day of the event must be accomplished by Boston schools.

"Financial and cuts would be devastating to the educational futures of many college students," said Ho. "Financial aid cuts endanger the ability of Harvard to continue need blind admissions."

Ho admitted that because of Harvard's current commitment to need-blind admissions and full need based aid, the effects of financial aid cuts would probably not be so immediate here as they would be at other schools. But he emphasized that Harvard students should still be concerned.

"Student aid is essential to a lot of students on this campus," Ho said. "Because of the prestige of Harvard, as far as we have the ability to help, we should."

In a show of support, Harvard's Undergraduate Council took its first political stance in years by allocating $100 and encouraging Council members to support the rally.

Albert said that PAN will help mobilize student support by postering, tabling and working with the council. Albert said PAN is also hoping to door drop information about the current legislation and the rally today.

Students can reach the Coalition to Save Student Aid hotline at (800) 574-4AID and connect to their local representative's office by using their home zip code

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