Preserving Student Financial Aid: An Open Letter to the Mary Baldwin Community

November 15, 2011

As Congress considers possible cuts to higher education and Virginia’s governor drafts a budget for the next two years, Mary Baldwin’s Vice President for Public Relations Crista Cabe explains how the college community can help preserve financial aid for students.

Now more than ever, most Mary Baldwin students and their families rely on federal grants and loan programs, as well as Virginia state tuition grants, to afford college. Fortunately, student aid programs have historically garnered strong bipartisan support, but — given the severity of budget woes at all levels of government — the programs that are so important to our students are potentially at risk. Mary Baldwin University is a member of organizations at both the state and federal level that organize grassroots efforts to support public policy that benefits private colleges and our students. If you support the programs that provide essential aid to our students, please read on to find out how to join these efforts.

Students on the Mary Baldwin campus benfit from state and federal aid

Federal Programs and the Student Aid Alliance

A large percentage of Mary Baldwin University students, particularly in the Residential College for Women and the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs, could not afford college without federal grants and loans. Over the past year, funding for federal student aid programs has been cut by $30 billion. Now, we understand that the “Super Committee” (the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, tasked with developing a federal debt reduction plan by November 23) is looking at the possibility of additional student aid cuts. We believe that such cuts could have a significant negative impact on our students.

In an effort to remind elected officials of how many Americans’ lives are improved by a college education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, of which Mary Baldwin is a member, has mobilized an organization called the Student Aid Alliance. The Alliance, a broad coalition across the entire higher education community, seeks to get as many student aid supporters as possible to sign a statement of support to reinforce its advocacy efforts.

Virgina Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) and VWIL Grant

Information for Virginia Residents

The Commonwealth of Virginia provides a Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) that provides about $2,600 for in-state residents who are full-time undergraduates at private non-profit colleges in Virginia. Cadets in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) are by law not eligible for TAG, but the state offers an equivalent grant for those students. Both funding streams are important components in the financial aid packages of virtually every eligible student at Mary Baldwin.

Governor McDonnell is working this month to complete his budget proposal for the 2012–14 biennium. He will then present his proposed budget to the General Assembly, and that body will consider the budget during its session starting in January 2012. For maximum effect, now is the time to contact Governor McDonnell with your thoughts on funding for TAG and the VWIL grant.

Mary Baldwin is a member of the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV), a group that is working to increase funding for TAG. The easiest way for you to participate in the campaign is through a CapWiz website, which makes it easy for you to contact the governor, your state senator, and your delegate all at once. It will even look up your elected officials and their contact information based on your address.