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Dan Morris

When Public Policy Gets Personal

There's nothing like a personal story to illuminate the impact of good public policy and public investments that benefit the vast majority of Americans. In this case, I'm referring to Joe Hill's heartfelt account of how the Perkins Loan Program changed his life. Joe is a senior at Georgetown and one of our DMI Scholars. His story is one among millions, as the title of his Huffington Post essay points out, but it's particularly compelling, and worth spending some time with--as members of Congress on the House Budget Committee did earlier this week when Joe gave testimony on the importance of the Perkins Loan Program based on his own experience. Here's an excerpt:

When I was accepted to Georgetown University, I was thrilled. But when my parents looked over the initial financial aid package, they didn't see how we could do it.

My mother is employed by the City of Philadelphia's Health Department. She often works 12-hour days to support my 9-year-old brother and me. My father is a realtor with his own dream of being a classroom teacher. My dad suffers from a neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis, which has rendered him weak and immobilized. His condition was very severe when I was a young child, resulting in frequent hospitalization. It improved for several years but then worsened considerably during my senior year in high school, which created significant financial challenges for my family. In spite of his disability, he kept providing for us to the extent he could and even pursued teacher certification, student-teaching at his former high school.

Georgetown offered $26,000 in scholarships and I received several small scholarships from organizations like the Urban League and the NAACP. Still, we were faced with a significant amount to pay. The Perkins Loan helped my parents fill that gap.

Last week, I was talking to my mother and, without hesitation, she said, "It still wouldn't have worked without that Perkins Loan." She is absolutely right.

Now go read the whole thing.

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 23, 2010 in Education
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