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Proposed state budget could decrease student financial aid opportunities

Proposed state budget could decrease student financial aid opportunities

Susan Fischer

The Office of Student Financial Aid Director Susan Fischer addresses ASM Student Council.

UW-Madison director of financial aid said Wednesday need-based aid could be in trouble if the biennial budget passes.

Susan Fischer, the Office of Student Financial Aid director, thanked the council for its advocacy on behalf of student aid with the recent announcement of the proposed budget cuts.

Constituent involvement is what really makes a difference, Fischer said, and added it is crucial to continually connect with legislators and remind them how important financial aid is to UW System students.

Fischer also described the potential effects of the cuts on the Office of Student Financial Aid in particular.

She said the office is known for a history of frugality, and added that her employees have already performed “heroically” in times when the budget was lean.

However, due to the size of the proposed cuts, Fischer hypothesized there would have to be further reductions in the office.

Finance Committee Chair Madison Laning asked Fischer how the possible tuition increase, along with the office’s hypothetical reductions, could impact overall financial aid offered to students.

Fischer said the result could be more an increase in need, but not aid, and that students would potentially have to rely on financial aid from their respective colleges and departments.

Getting funds for need-based aid, Fischer added, is typically hard to do.

“People do not want to give money to need-based aid, they want to give money to the smartest kid, regardless of need,” Fischer said.

If the proposed cuts become a reality, Fischer said her office would not be able to run at the same level of service as she, as well as all UW System students, would like.

After hearing Fischer’s thoughts on the budget, the council briefly discussed future outreach methods.

ASM Vice Chair Derek Field introduced his plan to contact chambers of commerce throughout the state, hoping to possibly get responses about the value of a UW-Madison degree and concern over the cuts.

Additionally, Chair Genevieve Carter discussed the successful call-in day held Monday, where students contacted their legislators and expressed concern over the budget cuts.

Carter said there was a “fantastic” amount of turnout at the event, and there are hopes of holding another soon.

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