Kansas University student representatives said Friday that Congress should not make any cuts to student financial aid programs.
Following a meeting Friday with their congresswoman, Kansas University student leaders said they were still displeased that Rep. Jan Meyers, R-Kan., supports trimming any student financial aid programs.
"Although it was productive, it was disappointing," said Renee Speicher, executive director of KU's Graduate Student Council.
Speicher said she was displeased that Mrs. Meyers still advocates cutting research grants and fellowships, which are particularly important to graduate students.
Speicher was among seven students who met with Mrs. Meyers in her Lawrence office for more than an hour Friday afternoon to tell her of their displeasure with her support of cutting some funding to student financial aid programs.
The meeting was a culmination of efforts KU students have made this week to raise awareness of $11 billion in proposed cuts to student financial aid and student loans.
Mrs. Meyers told the students she has a long record of supporting higher education and that she was trying to make cuts as painless as possible.
"Any cut is a step in the wrong direction, in terms of fellowships," Speicher said. "(Fellowships and research grants) make us competitive as a university, competitive as a state and competitive as a nation in the global market."
David Stevens, a representative of the Student Senate's Student Legislative Awareness Board, called the meeting "informative."
"I hope that she'll take back to Washington the priorities that we have laid out for her," Stevens said. "We said 'Education was a priority for us and we hope it's a priority for you.' She says it's a priority but we want to see her vote like it's a priority."
After the meeting, Mrs. Meyers said the students made "persuasive arguments" about education being an investment in the future.
She said the students told her that the impact of cutting student aid was high because many students getting the financial aid were from lower income families.
"Although any reduction in spending in education is important to me, I think the reductions that were made were relatively modest," she said.
Of the $35 billion the government spends in student financial aid, about $24 billion goes to student loans, with about $7 billion in Pell Grants and the rest in research grants, fellowships and other programs, Mrs. Meyers said.
Mrs. Meyers voted for legislation that cuts about $700 million in financial aid.
However, she predicted that funding for student loans and Pell Grants will probably remain about the same as it is now as Congress continues working on the budget in the next two months.
"I'm torn between a very strong support for education, which absolutely will be maintained, and a knowledge that as we reduce the deficit between now and the year 2002, probably everybody in society is going to be affected, if we do it right," Meyers said.
"If we do it wrong, it will impact one segment of society too much," she said. "I think we can bring the deficit to zero without decimating programs, without hurting education."