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Lobbying on Beacon Hill

Robert DeLeo, BA’72, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, met privately with the Northeastern contingent at the State House on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

Stanislas Phanord’s mother died in 2009, forcing him to take custody of his younger brother.

If not for need-based state and federal financial-aid programs, he would not have had the opportunity to become a third-year political science and international affairs dual major at Northeastern University. Instead, he would have had to continue supporting his brother by bagging groceries.

“None of this would be possible without financial aid,” he explained, noting that his parental role has “encouraged me to work harder.”

Phanord was among more than a half dozen Northeastern students who participated in Student Financial Aid Day at the State House on Tuesday afternoon. The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts organized the program, which drew some 200 students from roughly three dozen college and universities throughout the state.

The students crisscrossed the building, meeting with state senators and representatives to push for continued support of need-based financial aid programs. Both Northeastern’s Government Relations and Student Financial Services offices helped prepare the students for the event, as part of the university’s ongoing commitment to protect need-based state and federal aid for higher education.

Robert DeLeo, BA’72, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, met privately with the Northeastern contingent. Prior to the meeting, he encouraged all students in their Tuesday sessions with senators and representatives to explain how financial aid has affected their college careers.

“Let them know what financial aid means to you in terms of continuing your education in Massachusetts,” he told students, whom he referred to as “our future.” “The best lobbying we can get is from hearing stories about what this means to each and every one of you.”

Northeastern student Dylan O’Sullivan took DeLeo’s cue by discussing the importance of financial aid with Senate Majority Whip Harriette L. Chandler.

Financial aid helped the fourth-year political science major complete a co-op in Washington, D.C., as a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts, who sits on the House Committee on Rules.

“I wouldn’t be at Northeastern if not for financial aid,” O’Sullivan told Chandler. “I have three younger siblings who want to go to college, so I think it’s something that needs to continue.”

Chandler empathized with O’Sullivan’s call to preserve funding for financial aid, noting, “I could not have graduated from college without it.”

“We’re the education state,” she added. “If we don’t [support] it, then who will?”