Like many to come this summer, this was a big week in Washington D.C. for the FIU community. Issues like student loans, veterans in-state tuition, and the future of immigration reform were at the forefront, as FIU interns arrived on the scene for the summer.
Student loan reform, Pell grants and veterans education
As President Obama announced his plan to extend the Pay-As-You-Earn initiative, capping any monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of discretionary income for pre-2007 loans, Senator Warren (D-Mass.) proposed a bill that would allow students to refinance federal or private loans issued before 2010, at 3.86 percent. That bill was defeated, but the Executive Order will provide some relief to FIU alumni.
An appropriations bill was passed through committee in the Senate that would increase the Pell grant maximum to $5,830. Currently about 18,000 FIU students receive a loan with an average debt of $17,500. A little more than nine percent of FIU students default on their loan compared to the national average, which is more than 13 percent. For more information, visit FIU’s Financial Aid page.
Although Florida already offers in-state tuition for veterans, the House added a provision to a House bill, HR 357 (GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act) introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), and a Senate bill, S. 257 introduced by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), that would allow veterans to have in-state tuition rates at public universities, regardless of the veterans state of residence. FIU currently has more than 2,000 veterans. For more information on our veteran relations, check out this link.
FIU announced its support of the STEM Networks Act of 2014, introduced by Congressman Joe Garcia (D-FL). The bill would create grants for state and local educational organizations targeted at improving STEM education and job opportunities through partnerships with businesses and universities like FIU. FIU is a national leader in increasing the number of STEM degrees, especially among minorities.
“During a time when more than 60 percent of U.S. employers are having difficulties finding qualified workers in STEM fields to fill vacancies at their companies, these sorts of strategies are essential to spurring economic growth,” said Rep. Garcia. “By providing rich STEM learning opportunities, schools can help better prepare their students for these opportunities.”
Promoting FIU educational innovation
On June 10, Carlos Becerra, director of FIU Federal Relations, spoke on a panel for the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) focused on Borders to Prosperity for the Hispanic community.
Becerra touched on topics such as the importance of PELL grants, STEM Education among minorities, and how public and urban school partnerships with higher education institutions can create a pipeline to college. Of most interest to the participants was FIU’s Graduation Success Initiative, and the ACCESS partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
D.C. summer internship experience
Summer interns participated in a discussion with alumni who have worked on Capitol Hill on June 9. The event, which took place in the prestigious House Foreign Affairs Committee Room, included Amy Smith from Boeing, formerly of the House Transportation Committee; Jose Parra from Prospero Latino, formerly of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s office; and David Metellus from the Senate Small Business Committee.
“If you want to work on the Hill, you have to be on the Hill,” said Metellus. He was referring to internships and networking on the Hill and how it is a world all in itself.
Fifteen students and recent alumni participated in the Cuban National Conference 2014, a two-day conference with debates and receptions where some of the most pressing issues among Hispanics are being discussed, thanks to scholarships provided by CNC. Dr. Enaida Roldan, of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, also participated on a panel focused on Medical Tourism.
Also in D.C. this week was Costa Rican President (and former FIU Professor) Luis Guillermo Solis, who took some time to meet some of FIU in D.C. interns.
For more insight on FIU’s role in D.C. or too see what summer interns are getting involved with, stay connected with FIU in D.C. on Facebook and Twitter.
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