By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
"Do you have just a second? All I need is a signature from you. We want to tell the federal government it is unacceptable to cut financial aid."
This is a pitch any student walking in front of Old Main could have heard yesterday afternoon, as student leaders held a petition drive to voice discontent with attempts to cut various federal financial aid programs. The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on funding issues surrounding various financial aid programs when they reconvene next week.
"We want to inform students about what is going on in Washington that effects them and their financial aid," said Wendee Julian, the Associated Students federal relations director. "We want students to know that they aren't going to get as much money as they expected.
"We've heard from the legislators that they haven't heard from students, that students don't vote; we want to tell them that isn't true."
Tom Moring, the co-organizer of the event, agreed, "We want to send a clear message that it is unacceptable to balance the budget on the back of future generations."
About 350 students signed the petitions set up on tables outside Old Main. Many students signed letters to be sent to Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Tucson, and Rep. Jim Kolbe, D-Tucson, and other students filled out voter registration forms.
Programs targeted for elimination include government subsidies for student loans. This would in-
crease the average student loan by $3,000, from $17,000 to $20,000. Proposals to decrease funding for Pell grants, State Student Incentive grants and Javits and Harris graduate fellowships.
At the UA alone, 219 students would lose a total of $556,000, said Ben Driggs, student body president-elect.
Organizers of the event said they feel that many students aren't informed about the proposed cuts, and said they hope to reach as many students as possible.
"Since it is such a complex issue, students don't really know about it," Driggs said. "We hope that every student who receives financial aid knows the potential cuts that could happen and takes action. Students must take action if we want to stop this."
Phyllis Bannister, UA director of financial aid, said she agreed. "Students have to be plugged in to the political process, since the decisions the legislature makes have a direct and immediate effect on student's lives. Financial aid is directly affected at this time. It is hard for students to keep up with all the issues in Congress, but the results of the next few weeks will be very important to students."
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