AICUP Message to Friends of Independent Higher Education
March 20, 2017

President Trump's Budget Proposes Higher Education Cuts

President Trump has proposed a “blueprint” budget that would cut $9 billion from the United States Department of Education for the 2018 fiscal year which begins October 1. The budget, which Congress will consider, proposes elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), which provides more than $52 million in aid to nearly 69,000 low-income college students in Pennsylvania. Senator Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee, has also talked about the simplification of education funding and potential elimination of SEOG and similar programs.  SEOG is particularly valuable to Pennsylvania because many of the state’s private and state-related colleges and universities were early entrants to the program and have been protected in hold-harmless provisions ever since.  Thus, Pennsylvania and many northeastern states receive a disproportionate share of SEOG funds.

Under Trump’s budget, Pell Grants, the largest need-based federal student aid program, would be maintained at $22 billion and the scheduled Pell Grant maximum increase will remain at $5,920.  Surplus funding that could be used to support a year-round program, however, would be eliminated.  Speaker Paul Ryan has spoken in support of a year-round Pell, stating that this idea “makes sense.”

Several agencies that provide money for academic research, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, would see significant cuts.  The most radical proposal calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. While these agencies have bipartisan support in Congress, the Trump budget proposes to shift some of this funding for increases in defense, homeland security, immigration reform and a major infrastructure program.

  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) would be eliminated. These grants go to the poorest Pell Grant students who would lose an average of $600 in grant aid.
  • Federal Work Study (FWS) would be cut “significantly” and reformed “to ensure funds go to undergraduate students who would benefit most.” (There is no funding amount included in the budget plan). Students currently receive $1,670 on average from FWS.
  • Targeting programs that the government believes have not improved student outcomes, TRIO would be cut by $92 million and GEAR UP would be cut by $103 million, while providing for only continuation awards.
  • The budget would eliminates 20 education programs including Teacher Quality Partnership Grants, and those “that do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, or are more appropriately supported with state, local, or private funds.” Graduate education programs are assumed to be among those programs.
  • The Pell Grant maximum award would remain at $5,920, but $4 billion would be cut from the current surplus to pay for other programs outside of student aid.
  • Student loan and tax proposals are not included in the “skinny budget,” which only addresses discretionary spending. This does not mean student loans or tax benefits may not face future cuts. The higher education community expects to see proposals on student loans from the Administration, if it submits a full FY 2018 budget early this summer; or when Congress writes its own budget this spring. Tax reform, if it happens, is in the more distant future. Stay tuned!
Did you know?:  You can look at the Trump budget at White House budget.