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As a constituent, you have the right to expect your elected officials to pay attention to your opinions. Action alerts are a simple yet effective way to have your voice heard. Choose an action alert below to tell your elected official why these issues matter. Share them with your colleagues and friends.

In 2020, there were 62.1 million Hispanics in the U.S, comprising nearly 20 percent of the population. According to Census Bureau projections, there will be 111 million Hispanics living in the U.S in 2060. Despite Hispanic population growth, the current education system has failed to sufficiently support Hispanic college completion. At four-year institutions, Hispanic students are 12 percent less likely to graduate than their white peers. If this education gap persists, there will not be enough educated workers to fill the jobs left by retiring baby boomers, and household incomes for all Americans. To help alleviate this problem, U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (CA) introduced the Hispanic Educational Resources and Empowerment Act (HERE) Act, which will provide federal funding to facilitate partnerships between school districts and universities serving large numbers of Hispanic/Latino students.

Take Action now. 

Take Action in a variety of ways in asking Congress to double the Pell grant and take an important step toward college affordability. The Pell Grant program is the nation’s foundational investment in higher education. Pell Grants help nearly 7 million low-and moderate-income students attend and complete college annually. That is 40 percent of undergraduates at U.S. colleges and universities. Students from all 50 states and all corners of the country—from rural areas to cities to everywhere in between—rely on the Pell Grant program to pursue their college aspirations and achieve a brighter future. Nearly 70 percent of Pell Grant dollars go to students with a family income below $30,000 and nearly 90 percent to students with a family income below $50,000. Pell Grants are especially critical for students of color, with nearly 60 percent of Black students, and roughly half of American Indian or Alaska Native students and Hispanic students receiving a Pell Grant each year. The share of college costs covered by the Pell Grant is at an all-time low. Nearly 50 years ago, the maximum grant covered more than three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college. After decades of state budget cuts that drove up tuition, combined with flat household incomes over the same period, Pell Grants now cover less than one-third of those costs. Unsurprisingly, Pell Grant recipients continue to bear disproportionate student debt burdens. Pell Grant recipients today are nearly twice as likely as other students to have student loans and those who do borrow graduate with over $4,500 more debt than their higher-income peers. Doubling the maximum Pell Grant is a good investment that will boost economic mobility. In 2018, the median earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients with no advanced degree working full time were $24,900 higher than those of high school graduates. Bachelor’s degree recipients paid an estimated $7,100 more in taxes and took home $17,800 more in after-tax income than high school graduates.

Take action by writing your members of Congress to provide a path to citizenship for students who were brought to this country as minors and who have completed their high school education, a proposal commonly known as the “DREAM Act.” A number of bills, including HR 1177, S 348, and S 264, have been introduced in 2021 to address this issue. For decades, educators and national organizations have supported the DREAM Act to assist the tens of thousands of undocumented students who graduate from American high schools each year, yet are left with few, if any, postsecondary educational options because of an outdated and confusing provision in existing immigration law. Far too many years have passed without providing these students the opportunity they deserve. As Justice William Brennan concluded in the landmark Plyler v. Doe case that granted undocumented students access to K-12 public education, “[W]hatever savings might be achieved by denying these children an education, they are wholly insubstantial in light of the costs involved to these children, the State, and the Nation.”

Take action by writing your members of Congress and urge them to support accountability for for-profit colleges seeking to convert to non-profit status. This legislation provides critical protections for students and taxpayers against waste, fraud, and abuse at the hands of predatory colleges that seek to convert to non-profit status without a meaningful change in their operations. According to The Century Foundation, “Three core findings stand out in the new report. First, when ownership seeks to preserve some sort of insider role with the nonprofit school, conversions can become compromised, causing leadership and resources to be diverted from the college’s educational mission and instead steered into growing the former owner’s bank account. Of the nearly sixty conversions that GAO examined, insiders continued to play a role in the newly established nonprofit in roughly one-third. The GAO found that, among converted schools, those in which an insider continued to play a role account for the vast majority of federal aid, have worse financial performance, and risk improperly channeling profits to those insiders. Second, IRS tax-exempt status is wholly inadequate for assessing whether a school is actually nonprofit in the way it is operating. And third, neither the IRS nor the Department of Education are doing enough to address the problem.”

Take action by asking your members of Congress to support The Protect Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act. For years, predatory colleges have taken advantage of a loophole in federal law to exploit Veterans and active duty service members, enrolling them through high-pressure, misleading sales tactics and leaving them with little in the way of an education but often tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. The Protect Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act would close that loophole, ensuring that postsecondary institutions do not simply target Veterans and servicemembers for their GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance benefits. 

Take action by sending a message to Congress and offer your perspectives on education policy for 2021. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), has developed a set of priorities intended to emphasize higher education as a public good. The payoffs on public investments in higher education to the individual include higher earnings; increased participation in civic society; greater efficacy in political and personal life; greater satisfaction with life; and a host of other benefits. Society also benefits from citizens with advanced education – more skills for innovation and employment, greater political engagement, higher earnings (and therefore taxes), improved workforce and economic output, less imprisonment, and reduced need for some social safety net programs. As such, we benefit exponentially from the investments we make in higher education as a country.

Write to your members of Congress to encourage their support for HR 614, the “Put School Counselors Where They Are Needed Act.” School counselors can make a big difference in the lives of students. However, many students have limited to no access to a school counselor, as student-to-counselor ratios exceed 450:1 nationally. In some states, that ratio climbs as high as 900:1. HR 614 would provide funding for schools to hire more school counselors. We need your help to build support for this important bill in Congress. See here for more information about student-to-counselor ratios in your state and district.

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Monthly Advocacy Checklist

  • Happy New Year! Check your Secretary of State’s website for important voting dates, including registration deadlines, and mark your calendar. Register to vote if you haven’t already done so, or double-check to ensure you are registered. Learn more about the student voting requirements in your state. 
  • Contact your affiliate government relations chair(s) to inquire about advocacy engagement opportunities planned in your state in the coming year. 
  • Meet with your members of Congress in their district office during Presidents’ Day district work period. Consider bringing a student along to share their personal story! 
  • Because most state legislatures are in full swing, many affiliates hold state-level advocacy days this time of year. Attend yours, if available. If your state does not host an advocacy day, consider setting up a meeting with your state elected officials to share more information about NACAC’s policy priorities.  
  • Participate in NACAC’s Annual Advocacy Meeting. Check for upcoming dates. 
  • Check the Education Commission of the States’ State Education Policy Tracker for any relevant legislation in your state and contact your representative(s) to share your support or concerns. 
  • It’s the beginning of appropriations season on Capitol Hill. Call your members of Congress and encourage them to support increased education funding. 
  • Meet with your members of Congress in their district offices during the spring district work period. Consider bringing a student along to share their personal story! 
  • Happy summer!  Call your members of Congress and urge them to support or oppose these bills. 
  • Consider inviting elected officials—local and federal—to your school or campus for a visit in the new school year. Invite them to attend a college application night, host a financial aid night, or simply visit campus to speak to students. 
  • Most states’ legislative sessions have adjourned. Reach out to your state elected officials and offer to meet with them to discuss potential legislation for the next session. 
  • Prepare for the coming school year by joining NACAC’s Stay Informed mailing list. You’ll receive email updates on federal education policy and other relevant issues throughout the year. 
  • Visit your members of Congress while they are home for August district work period. Consider bringing a student along to share their personal story! 
  • Happy new school year! Encourage any students you work with who are eligible to vote to register if they have not already done so. 
  • Congress must pass all appropriations bills by Sept. 30 to fund the next fiscal year. Call your members of Congress and remind them to prioritize increased education funding. 
  • Consider attending the Government Relations Committee meeting and/or adding at least one advocacy-related session at the annual NACAC National Conference. 
  • VOTE! 
  • Before the semester ends, reach out to one of your NACAC or affiliate colleagues and encourage them to get engaged with advocacy opportunities in the new year. Show them this checklist to help illustrate how easy it is to get involved!  
  • Register for the NACAC’s Annual Advocacy Meeting. 
  • Get a jump on the new Congressional and state legislative sessions! Reach out to your newly elected or re-elected representatives and encourage them to support NACAC’s legislative priorities in the upcoming session. 

Interested in getting involved at the state level? Find your affiliate’s Government relations committee.   

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