The Associated Students of Madison advocated for better implementation of student aid efforts and clarified their bylaws regarding student government positions at their Tuesday night meeting.
ASM advocated for better UW-Madison implementation of the American Rescue Plan HEERF III fund, and voted to demand that the Office of Student Financial Aid and the Bursar’s Office provide federal Perkins loan relief. They also updated the Student Services Finance Committee policy and procedures and ASM position descriptions, in addition to amending multiple lines in the bylaws.
Under the U.S. Department of Education’s American Rescue Plan HEERF III fund, institutions may use the student portion of the fund for any component of their cost of attendance and emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as, but not limited to, tuition, food, housing, healthcare, mental health care and child care, according to a press release.
ASM encouraged all students who need financial aid to apply for HEERF III funding. Previously, there had been restrictions for DACA recipients, international students and undocumented students in receiving financial aid. However, in the most recent version of HEERF, these restrictions were removed and ASM urged UW-Madison to award student grants to all students.
With over 4,000 international students, DACA and undocumented students, ASM claimed that UW-Madison has the responsibility for “not only the distribution of HEERF III funding to noncitizen students but also an increased in the percentage of HEERF III dollars that go towards students directly based on guidelines.”
In a unanimous decision, ASM passed legislation that demands that UW-Madison — including the Office of Student Financial Aid and Office of the Bursar — explain their interpretation of their voluntary authority to provide federal Perkins loan relief in the form of paused payments, paused interest and three months of forbearance as offered by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, according to the legislation.
“We emailed them about this and they never responded to any of our questions or meeting requests,” said UW-Madison alumni Brooke Evans in the legislative discussion. “I also want to shout out the BIPOC Coalition who worked so hard to support me on this issue in this kind of legislation and behind-the-scenes emails, they are unparalleled in their support.”
The demands are primarily directed to providing students with better federal Perkins loan relief and making a transparent process of filing for financial aid.
In the final pieces of legislation, ASM voted on editing position descriptions for ASM and correcting language within the ASM bylaws. The additions will clarify and implement a more clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of ASM positions. Also, clarifications were made for new positions in ASM such as the Mask Ambassador.
The next student council meeting will be held next Tuesday, April 20.