Policy Corner

SES Policy Corner

As we start the 111th Congress, it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on our successes and create a plan of legislative action.

By Krysta Jones

As we start the 111th Congress, it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect on our successes and create a plan of legislative action.

Higher education provides individuals with skills and authority to enter the job market and is becoming a necessary factor in obtaining a job in the United States that can cover living expenses. However, financial restrictions prevent 48% of college-qualified, low-income students from attending a four-year institution, and prevent 22% from attending any college for any length of time. This has contributed to the growing income gap between low-income and high-income individuals in the United States.

Last year, Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act which included reauthorization of the federal TRIO (Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Student Support Services) and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate (GEAR UP) Programs.The TRIO program is designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the GEAR UP program is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Yet, the current economic downturn portends a difficult road ahead for federal financial aid programs. According to the Department of Education, the federal Pell Grant Program, which serves low-income students, received almost 800,000 more applications in the first seven months of 2008 than during the same period in 2007. Congress may need to budget an additional $6 billion this year for the program to fund these grants. APA will work with Congress to provide adequate funding for financial aid programs, but we need your help! It is critical that we provide Congress research on the negative impact of reduced access to education and how to improve the current federal programs.

Become a Key Contact

We all have a role to play in the political process. It is important that psychology play an integral part of SES-related legislation and regulations on these issues. APA works closely with decision-makers on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies on policies. As we continue to expand our SES advocacy, now is your chance to make sure your voices are heard. Become a Key Contact for the SES Key Contact Program. The purpose of the SES Key Contact Program is to educate APA members interested in SES issues about legislation on Capitol Hill, mobilize members interested in SES to serve as resources to Members of Congress and their staffs, and encourage members to contact Congress before important votes to ensure SES-related viewpoints are heard. As a Key Contact you will receive up-to-date information on SES policy, periodic alerts to let you know when action is needed to support SES issues, and advocacy tips.

Furthermore, the Government Relations Offices is seeking experts in various fields who would be willing to serve in various areas such as visiting federal legislators on Capitol Hill or in local districts, writing/emailing your Congress person, attending an advocacy training, or providing expert testimony. If you are interested in registering your expertise with the office please complete the information at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/102641/advocacy-survey.

For more information on the SES Key Contact Program or to register as an expert, please contact Krysta Jones by e-mail or 202-336-5931.