The American Student Association of Community Colleges (ASACC) seeks to enhance student leadership by helping student governments at member schools address issues that affect students. Founded in 1984 by nine community colleges in the Great Lakes area, ASACC has been steadily growing and making a tangible impact on education legislation. On its website, ASACC credits itself with the passing of Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Service Code, which provides full tax deductibility for employers paying for employees’ college expenses. The organization also supported the Direct Student Loan Program, SAFRA, and increases in Pell Grants.
Students at member colleges play an active role in the organization’s success. Twice a year, ASACC facilitates a meeting between student senates and members of the US Congress or their staffs. According to Allen Rauth, the ASACC Great Lakes Region representative, these students have important voices because “technical and community colleges hold the same power that four-year colleges do, and…community colleges should be recognized on the same pedestal as four-year universities.”
At the meetings, students discuss between three and five key points set by ASACC, compiled from a list of the most important issues sent in by all ASACC member student senates. This list often includes Pell grants, the value of which does not often increase at the same pace as college tuition. Most recently, issues such as lowering the price of textbooks and lowering the age at which students may be considered independents have risen to the forefront of the list.
Rauth emphasizes that students are an investment in the future and should therefore be taken seriously by the legislators they visit. He believes that it is important for lawmakers to see whom their legislation affects and hear the opinions of the country’s next generation of leaders.