Pell Grants supported by letter campaign to Congress

Students across campus are being encouraged to write to their member of Congress in concern over proposals to restrict access to student need-based grants.

A letter writing campaign sponsored by the Illinois Connection, a grassroots advocacy program through the University of Illinois Alumni Association, is asking students on the Quad to write a postcard at the group’s booth to their federal legislators, showing their support for the Pell Grant program.

The Pell Grant is not a loan, and eligibility for it often means a student is qualified for additional state and institutional aid, such as the Monetary Award Program, or MAP, grant and the University of Illinois tuition grant, according to a pamphlet provided by the Illinois Connection.

Landon Frye, president of Student Alumni Ambassadors, said the aim of the campaign was showing objection to the federal proposals that would restrict the Pell Grant from students.

“It’s a huge impact for Illinois students as well, because about 14,000 students on campus are supported by the program,” he said. “Our goal is to make that aware on campus and also hopefully get those people who are supported by financial aid to write their representative.”

With a maximum level of $5,550, the grant covers 41% of the tuition and fees at the University and enables nearly 400,000 students in the state of Illinois to attend college, according to the pamphlet.

Brittani Brogdon, vice president of alumni relations for Student Alumni Ambassadors, said there was at least one student from every congressional district in the state at the University.

“Another goal with this is to show students that writing a letter makes a difference. Several letters to one legislator can show that it’s a big issue and makes a big impact,” she said.

Frye said they can send a lot of formal letters, but a simple, handwritten note can go a long way.

“We want to take an active approach to keep that support, not just for Illinois students, but higher education in general,” he said.

On Oct. 11, the organization collected almost 75 letters to send to members of Congress and will continue collecting letters on the Quad until 2 p.m. on Oct. 12.