Lack of student protest raises question of student awareness

On July 1, Pennsylvania’s new fiscal year started without a spending plan in place. It is now nearing the fifth month without a state budget. Up until earlier this year, taking an interest into public policy and governmental proceedings was not one of my strongest key points.

I had self-taught myself about the loan process, who to borrow from, where the money comes from and how the entire financial aid distribution works and affects me. I understood that as a state university, Clarion was relying on the passing of the state budget in order to distribute PHEAA grants and other government loans.

At the beginning of the school year, the worry was little, according to many calls and visits to the financial aide center it was just a waiting game, that I had filed my paperwork out correctly and was literally waiting on the state to pass the budget. The consequences then, at least to my knowledge, were somewhat small. Now, they are much bigger.

For some students, even some of my peers, they do not understand the concept behind student loans, reliance on the state budget, or where financial aid funds come from because their parents pay for their schooling or fill out their FAFSA for them. Mom and dad continue to do their taxes and avoid explaining the process of borrowing money and loan distribution because it is too complicated of a process to teach or something that  “mom and dad only need to worry about.”

As the semester comes to a close, students are preparing to enroll in classes and are coming to find that there is a financial hold on their account, a hold that prevents them from enrolling in classes. Many ask why this is? Why haven’t the loans gone through?

Many do not understand the fact that because of the budget impasse, the school doesn’t have the funds to reimburse the grants and provide the loans, so your tuition bill isn’t getting paid. If your tuition bill isn’t paid by the end of the semester, you can’t schedule classes. No classes, no graduation, your education is on hold.

A friend of mine asked me the other day, why aren’t students protesting in Harrisburg now? Why aren’t students fighting for their education? I think it is simple as this: many don’t know how much the budget impasse is affecting them because they are not educated on what it is or who it effects.

Believe me, if I had a car and day off work, I would be in Harrisburg protesting, advocating for the passing of some sort of budget, just to give universities and schools around Pennsylvania some breathing room.  Many Pennsylvania school districts are being forced to borrow money in order to pay teachers, to pay bills, to keep the school open.

How much longer do government officials expect colleges, high schools, students, who are trying to better their future by obtaining an education, stretch the worth of a dollar bill?  I mean I guess those up in Harrisburg are still getting paid, so long as the money flow doesn’t harm them then they can take their good old time creating a proposal, right?

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