Saving Higher Education
Going to college is a great opportunity. Students learn great ideas from experienced academics and figure out their place in the world. They meet new friends and join cool organizations. College is also quite expensive; 70% of college students will graduate with student loans being paid back for decades. Federal grant programs like the Pell Grant have been around to help students out. However, in deciding how to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget this past Fall, the Super Committee was considering cutting Pell Grants from the budget. This would mean over 68,000 students in New Mexico would have to find some other way to afford college! However, students at UNM held a Pell Grant Day of Action, making over 100 calls to Senator Jeff Bingaman's office in order to urge him to use his place on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to ensure Pell Grants were not cut.
Making Textbooks More Affordable
Textbook prices have gone up by 4 times the rate of inflation. The average college student pays $1100 per year on textbooks! These high prices happen because publishers have monopolized the market in order to dictate market trends and buying patterns. They release new editions without much change in content and are not required to disclose prices to professors. They also bundle the book with CDs and workbooks that students often do not use, or use an online program that costs almost as much as the book itself.
Students are not having this anymore. They, along with faculty and staff, are joining in the nationwide Textbook Rebellion, advocating for cheaper books and alternative options. UNM students participated in the Textbook Rebellion national tour, part of a 40-campus tour across the country. They collected 282 petitions and had 3 different media hits for the event! (See the Newsroom for links to these articles.)
No Hunger, No Homelessness
Students here at UNM know how big the issue of poverty is. New Mexico is the 3rd poorest state in the country, and 1 in 5 people is living under the poverty line. This semester, they took part in National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. For 1 week in November, NMPIRG educated students about income inequality, ran a food drive to donate to the Road Runner Food pantry, and provided 22 service hours at the Joy Junction homeless shelther.
(2010) Helped pass a new law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to lower health care costs for families including young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
(2010) Helped to pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which among other things, adds $36 billion into the Pell grant program. New Mexico PIRG Student Chapters and Student PIRG lobbying and organizing over the past several years was critical to the passage of this historic law.
(2009) Helped pass strong legislation called, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act that will end some of the worst abuses of the credit card industry, including some which are often targeted at college students.
(2009) Student PIRG and New Mexico PIRG student activists mobilized their peers and helped persuade Congress to include an additional $2.5 billion down-payment for high-speed rail in their appropriations bill, more than doubling President Obama’s original recommendation.
(2009) Help to launch the Resolve Conference, where 250 students from across the country were joined by activists, advocates and organizers for a weekend of education and training to create anti-poverty campaigns in their communities.
(2008) Helped with passing the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The law contains several important policy changes, including an increase in the maximum authorized level of the Pell Grant to $9,000.
(2008) New Mexico PIRG students helped get an Affordable Textbooks provision included in the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act. The provision helps lower the cost of textbooks for millions of students by requiring publishers to disclose textbook pricing and revision information to faculty and requiring publishers to offer textbooks and supplemental materials "unbundled."
(2008) Across the country, Student PIRGs' New Voters Project helps register 118,000 young voters and contacts 440,000 voters to turn them out to the polls
(2008) Surveyed over 2,000 students and released a subsequent report, “The Campus Credit Card Trap,” which garnered nationwide media coverage.
(2007) Joined the nationwide Student PIRGs' What’s Your Plan? Campaign which talked to the presidential candidates over 100 times on the campaign trail, to ask them about their plans for global warming and higher education.
(2007) Helped pass the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the largest increase in federal student aid in 20 years. The law also made dramatic cuts in interest rates for student loans.
(2006) Student PIRGs' New Voters Project helps register 75,000 young voters and makes 94,000 get-out-the-vote contacts to get youth across the country out to the polls
(2005) Joined PIRG students across the country to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in response to Hurricane Katrina and send hundreds of volunteers to the Gulf Coast to help with rebuilding efforts
(2004) The Student PIRGs' New Voters Project helps register 524,000 young voters across the country and works to turn them out to the polls
(2002) NMPIRG helps win renewable portfolio standard for New Mexico
(2002) U.S. PIRG helps win critical Senate vote blocking drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
(2002) U.S. PIRG efforts are instrumental in defeat of dirty energy bill
(2001) NMPIRG leads fight to hold off New Mexico Energy Deregulation
(2001) NMPIRG helps win removal of two loop roads from Albuquerque’s transportation plan
(2000) President Clinton announces PIRG-sponsored plan to protect 60 million acres of national forests
(1998) Student PIRGs win law requiring colleges to distribute voter registration forms to students
(1997) NMPIRG helps Albuquerque defend landmark mandatory spending limit
(1995) State PIRGs deliver 1.2 million petition signatures to Congress, helping stop rollback of environmental laws
(1991) NMPIRG helps win New Mexico’s Solid Waste Act, setting recycling goals
(1985) Student PIRGs and USA for Africa launch National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness
(1985) NMPIRG helps win rental security deposit law
(1984) The PIRGs' newly launched National Student Campaign for Voter Registration helps registers 750,000 student voters in its first year
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