Students talk college funding with Md. politicians


Dan Elson

AACC students joined more than 125 community college students for Student Advocacy Day to meet with Maryland legislators to discuss community college funding.

Zack Buster, Editor-in-Chief

AACC students met with Maryland legislators Tuesday to advocate for increased community college funding.

More than 125 students from Maryland’s 16 community colleges––including a delegation from AACC––asked state senators and delegates to support scholarships, tuition waivers and vote in favor of Governor Wes Moore’s proposed 2024 budget, which includes increased community college funding.

Maryland Senator Sarah Elfreth said Student Advocacy Day is “inspiring” because it helps legislators to make the most “informed decision possible,” telling the student leaders: “You being here, you telling your story, you sharing your experience really is going to make a world of difference.”

The Zoom meeting, hosted annually by the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, gives students, “a chance to peek under the hood, so to speak, and see some of the inner workings of what all is involved in making your experience meaningful and successful,” MACC Director Brad Phillips said.

Phillips told the students that advocating for more state funding of community colleges “is the most critical thing you can do to help your college become more affordable.”

After a general session with keynote speeches from state officials, students spent some time during the meeting in virtual breakout groups with their local legislators.

First-year transfer studies Student Kenia Canas said the small-group meeting let students “get their stories out there” because “it’s more personal when they [legislators] hear it from a student, because … there’s emotion tied to it so it makes it more meaningful.

Canas, a member of AACC’s Student Achievement and Success Program, added while she initially felt “intimidated” when talking to state Sen. Seth Howard, she found him more “relatable” as the conversation went on.

At the event, some of the officials expressed support for community colleges and students.

“I want you to know that I will stand in that gap to ensure that your voices are heard,” said Del. Stephanie Smith, who said she took some community college classes to save money on tuition while studying at a private, four-year college.