FIU in D.C. update: Interns, immigration and student loans

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A highlight every year for the Federal Relations team in Washington, D.C. is the influx of student interns that arrive in the Capital to gain real world experience and serve as FIU ambassadors at federal agencies and Capitol Hill. This week, President Mark B. Rosenberg visited D.C. to meet with 16 interns serving in 14 different federal agencies and organizations.

With a beautiful view of the Capitol building as the backdrop, President Rosenberg hosted his annual breakfast and encouraged the D.C. Panthers to pursue their dreams and take advantage of every opportunity presented to them during the summer.

“This experience is just one of the many building blocks that you’ll have in your professional careers. So it’s very important to make the most of it,” said Rosenberg.

Most of these interns will serve through the month of August and benefit from diverse programming and alumni mentors as part of the D.C. Capital Internship Experience, now in its third year. This sharp and ambitious group of young people is proudly representing FIU in our nation’s capital.

“FIU to me means growth just because of all of the experiences and opportunities that are available to help me develop as a person and as a professional”, said Gabriela Vasquez, an FIU intern and a Department of Energy Fellow.

Immigration reform

While in Washington, Rosenberg also took the opportunity to advance some of FIU’s key policy priorities on Capitol Hill during an important week for both student financial aid and immigration reform.

On June 27, in a historic vote, the Senate passed the immigration reform bill drafted by the “Gang of Eight” by a 63-32 vote. The bill will now go to the House for approval. Visits to key members of Congress that are leading the immigration debate, included a lengthy discussion with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public Land-grant Universities. FIU seeks to ensure that higher education provisions maintain flexibility to hire the world’s best researchers and to create vehicles to advance STEM Education. Currently, FIU employs 106 foreign nationals with H-1B visas.

Thanks to the work that the FIU Federal Relations team and APLU have done these past few weeks and months, the Senate Immigration Reform bill had special provisions that took into consideration the needs of higher education and specifically minority serving institutions.

Financial aid

A compromise to prevent the doubling of student loan rates failed. Congress adjourned Thursday night without providing a solution that would limit Stafford loan interest rates from doubling, although future votes may reduce rates retroactively – if decided upon later this summer. Approximately 150,000 students in South Florida currently receive Stafford Loans. At FIU, 21,000 students have a Stafford Loan – with an average indebtedness of $16,000.


On a lighter note, two South Florida Congresswomen played in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball game cheered on by a pack of Panther alumni and student interns. Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz had the opportunity to practice with members of the FIU softball team at Modesto A. Maidique Campus recently.


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