While many student loan borrowers focus on working within the status quo to find a solution that works best for them, others prefer to challenge the current system and are passionate about advocating for change. One simple way to do this is to write a letter to Congress expressing your position on student loan issues.
Added together with the letters of others with similar beliefs, such letters can be a powerful force for change. Here’s how to write a letter to Congress, including a sample letter to Congress from student loan borrowers that you can follow to make your voice heard.
How to write a letter to Congress
Never written a letter to Congress before? It’s simple to do by following these steps:
1. Find out who your congress representative is
You’ll need to know not only who represents you in the House and Senate, but also their email and physical address, which will be available on their website.
At this point, you might be asking, “Who is my congressman or congresswoman?” You can find your representative in the House by searching the Directory of Representatives using your state and district. Each representative has a link to their website within the directory.
You can find out who represents you in the Senate by searching the listing of senators on the chamber’s official website. Filter results by state to find your representative; their contact information — including phone number, address and website — should be listed.
You should also try to understand your congress representative’s stance on the student loan issues you want to discuss. For example, you can review the stance of presidential candidates on student loans and see if your representative has expressed similar viewpoints.
2. Write your letter to Congress
Once you know who you’re sending your letter to, it’s time to write it. You’ll want to make sure you type the letter in a standard font and use an official letter format that includes the address and date at the top of the letter. Wondering how to address a congress representative in a letter? Begin with a formal salutation that addresses your recipient by their proper title.
In the body of the letter, use the first paragraph to identify who you are, where you’re from and to express why you’re writing. Since you want to keep your letter to only one page, it’s wise to focus on one issue per letter, so that your correspondence is to the point.
If you’re talking about specific legislation, be sure to reference the number. For example, if you were writing about a House resolution, you’d want to write H.R. 1234 (inserting the appropriate numbers for the resolution you’re referencing). If you were writing in regards to a Senate bill, you would similarly want to include the appropriate reference, such as S.B. 123.
You’ll also want to use appropriate facts and data to support your argument. For example, if you’re writing about student loan forgiveness, be sure you fully understand the various federal programs in place. You could also review expert student loan commentary to help inform your position. Including key data, such as statistics from survey results, can also help add credence to your claims.
If you’re looking for a specific example of how to write a letter to a congressional representative, you can review the sample letter below and include elements of it in your own correspondence.
Sample letter to Congress from student
This sample letter to Congress from a student is a template you can use to guide your letter-writing.
Your name and title
Recipient’s name and title (Ex: Senator ____ or The Honorable _____)
Recipient’s office address
Dear Representative/Senator _______,
I am writing to you as a constituent and graduate/student of [state your degree program or school] regarding the [state your issue, focus on one issue]. I am writing to urge you to [state your request].
This issue is significant because [use the next three to five sentences to provide factual support for your position].
I have witnessed the impact of this issue in my own community. [Use the next three to five sentences to provide a personal example of this issue’s importance in your life or community.]
I urge you to support the [name the legislation you want supported]. If you would like more information about how this is impacting my community, and me personally, please feel free to contact me directly. I look forward to working together with you in this process.
3. Try calling or emailing your congress representative
In addition to sending a written letter, you can also consider putting in a call to your representative in congress or emailing legislators to make your voice heard. While there is no firm data on which is the most impactful strategy, activists often recommend calling as their communication channel of choice because a barrage of phone calls is more urgent to address than a full email inbox. Whether you call or email, you will likely first reach a staffer who will compile your comments and present them to their superiors. Each elected official has a different method for engaging with their constituents. Some are known for calling each constituent back.
You can find your representative’s email and phone number in the same directories linked above. When you reach out, be sure to remain courteous, even if you’re speaking with passion. If you’re wondering, “How to call my congress representative effectively?” One idea is to write out some talking points before you get on the phone, to ensure you don’t miss crucial parts of your message. Also, keep in mind that you’ll have to verify over the phone that you are a constituent, usually by providing your name and city.
Sending an advocacy letter to Congress
Writing an effective advocacy letter to Congress requires you to be passionate but also to the point. Make your opinion clear but also succinct enough that the reader can engage with your entire letter. If you have additional thoughts to share or issues to bring up, there’s nothing to stop you from writing more letters in the future! There are even apps for contacting Congress that make it easier to continue to contact your representatives on issues that matter to you. Stay updated on news about student debt in the presidential debates or student loans in the coronavirus information center to make sure your opinions on these issues are accurately represented in Congress.
Susan Shain contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?
Here are the top 5 lenders of 2020!
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.