Making A Difference, Together.

Speaking out.

Changing policy.

Building knowledge.

Who We Are


Students are the experts. Students know best how higher education policies affect them. Therefore, they should be involved in all levels of decision-making. The Active Advocacy Coalition is working to ensure that students are not only involved in the process, but that the processes and systems work best for students.

The Active Advocacy Coalition is a bi-state coalition of students working with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis and through St. Louis Graduates. The Coalition believes that low-income, first-generation, and undocumented students have the potential, ability, and right to pursue higher education and that students must be in the center of policy decisions regarding higher education.

To learn more about the history of The Active Advocacy Coalition and our accomplishments to date, please download our most recent publication – At Three Years: A Comprehensive Report.


AAC members attend the 2018 AAC Conference in Jefferson City, MO

AAC members attend the 2018 AAC Conference in Jefferson City, Missouri.

2018-2019 Education Policy Interns

  • Alisson Morales, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
  • Areli Munoz-Reyes, St. Louis Community College – Forest Park
  • Selena Ostoff, Saint Louis University
  • Omida Shahab, Saint Louis University
  • Gary Stevenson, Saint Louis University

What We Do

The Active Advocacy Coalition serves to unite students with the purpose of advancing policy that supports students with financial need.

AAC members live out this goal by advocating to state and federal elected officials and higher education institutions as well as engaging their classmates in issues that matter to students.

By combining legislative advocacy and research, the lived experience of our members and action – we’re working toward a future where all students have access to higher education no matter their economic or immigration status.


Our Issues

State Policy Agenda

  • Increase Funding for Access Missouri

Access Missouri, Missouri’s need-based scholarship program supports over 50,000 students from low to moderate income families. The awards average between $1,500-$1,850 even though the statute maximum award is $2,850. Missouri students’ ability to complete their degree and join the workforce largely depends on their access to financial resources. As the total cost of attendance increases, need-based financial aid has not kept pace and thus, leaving many low-income students priced out of higher education. This is not a risk Missouri can afford to take. Access Missouri grants flow more heavily to students from lower-income families, with most funds going to students with a household income of less than $40,000 per year.
In order to better understand the impact of Access Missouri on low-income students, the AAC commissioned an analysis of Access Missouri recipients by legislative district. Read the summary report here.

  • Tuition Equity for Undocumented Students

Each year, students in Missouri graduate from high school with the intention to enroll in, attend, and graduate from college. For some Missouri students, these dreams are out of reach. In the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 legislative sessions, language was added to the preamble of the higher education budget that states that students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are to be charged out-of-state or international tuition rates. Despite having grown up in the United States and attending and graduating from K-12 Missouri schools, they are being charged the highest rate of tuition at public institutions of higher education. Based upon data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008-2012 American Community Survey and the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation, there are approximately 13,000 undocumented youth in Missouri currently eligible for DACA.

Federal Policy Agenda

  • Boost Pell Funding: Indexing and Keeping Dollars Where They’re Needed

The Pell Grant enables hundreds of thousands of low-income students to afford college each year. During the 2016-2017 year, 141, 867 Missouri students received a Pell Grant, more students than any other federal financial aid grant program. However, the Pell Grant has significantly lost its spending power over time. To prevent further decline in spending power policymakers should:

  • Direct that carryover funds be applied to increase grant awards for the subsequent year;
  • Direct that carryover funds be applied to increase grant awards for the subsequent year; (1)
  • Promote college completion by awarding supplementary aid for completion of benchmark number of credits per semester.
  • Preserve Campus-Based Aid: Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

Work-study gives students the opportunity to work part-time to cover college costs. SEOG provides a supplemental grant to Pell recipients with the highest financial need. Campus-based federal aid programs such as these prove to be an important piece of the puzzle students cobble together to finance their education. Over 30,000 Missouri students rely on these programs to persist to gradation. To ensure these dollars are extended where they’re most needed, policymakers should:

  • Amend language within the PROSPER Act so that Federal Work Study funds are equitably allocated to campuses with the highest concentration of low income students;
  • Amend the PROSPER Act to continue the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (SEOG) Grant program; and,
  • Guard these dollars and fund the programs adequately.
  • Assure Passage of a Clean Dream Act

Congress must act swiftly to assure passage of a clean DREAM Act in order to protect undocumented young people from deportation and provide opportunity for continued education and work permits. Each day, 122 individuals previously authorized under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are losing their protection. As many as 800,000 individuals depend on this program to safely exist in the United States. A conservative estimate of the individuals in Missouri attending school or working with approval under DACA (the program under elimination) is 3,500. It is critical that we protect these students.

Why It Matters

People our age aren’t in the Capitol. Many state legislators and institutional leaders are removed from the college experience of today. While some have experienced barriers to accessing higher education, times have changed. It is easier to pass policies, cut budgets, and increase fees if they do not see the people these decisions affect. It is our job to show up and make our experiences real for them.

Very few people who look like us are in positions of power. Students of every color/immigration status/creed deserve representation and power within decision-making bodies.

We surprise them every time – with our brilliance and power. There is power in sharing your experiences with the world. People are surprised at the thoughts, opinions, and ideas students have, and how much change can happen when students put their minds to it. We are all stronger in numbers! We envision a world where policies are informed by and work in the favor of all students.

If we don’t, who will? Policy change is slow. In some ways, it is very slow. Yet, if we do not work towards change we can be certain it will not come. It is up to us to arm ourselves with the facts and continue to do the work. While we might not see the fruits of our labor, future generations are depending on us.


Please use the form below to contact us for information or to join our cause.