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Students urge lawmakers  to expand financial aid

Sponsored by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, the event attracted 150 students from 25 to 30 colleges and universities, according to association president Richard Doherty.

“Currently financial aid in Massachusetts tracks well below the national average of state’s support for higher education,” Doherty said.

Wheelock College student Martin Rosa and his friends made the trip to Beacon Hill to contact their legislator and learn more about the politics behind their state-funded aid.

Rosa said he came to the Statehouse to understand what goals lawmakers have set on financial aid — “and see how they have met them and what they haven’t met yet.”

State financial support for students has declined by $451.5 million since 2001, according to the Massachusetts Budget Center. The governor’s budget plan, which includes a 1 percent increase in the state income tax, would add $112 million to financial aid resources.

Speaking to the gathering in the Statehouse’s Great Hall, Patrick asked students to share their stories with local representatives and senators.

The governor told students he was able to attend college through federal financial aid. Such stories, he explained, motivate legislators to act.

“Tell your story all over this building,” he said. “That is the American story. And this has to be about the opportunity for people to have that story.”

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