Trump Budget for “American Greatness” Would Slam Aid Programs

DC Shuttle …

Budget Proposal Funds School Choice, Hits Aid to to Low- and Middle-Income Students. The White House released President Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, which cuts spending at the U.S. Department of Education and focuses on school choice. The budget would reduce the Department of Education’s discretionary funding from $68.2 billion to $59 billion, 13% below the fiscal 2017 continuing resolution level. The school choice program would get an additional $1.4 billion in federal funding for public and private schools. That includes $1 billion more for Title I grants, $250 million for research and $167 million for charter schools. In addition to increasing funding for school choice, the budget eliminates or significantly reduces funding to programs that assist low- and middle-income students in both K-12 public schools and higher education. Programs that would be eliminated include 21st Century Community Learning Centers, comprehensive literacy development grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

Secretary DeVos Details Budget at House Hearing. U.S Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before a House appropriations subcommittee about the administration’s budget proposal. On higher education issues, DeVos told lawmakers that she looks forward to working with them to reduce the complexity of student financial aid and address issues of student debt and college costs. Funding for select higher education programs would be significantly restructured under the White House’s fiscal 2018 budget request. The Trump administration budget would eliminate subsidized student loans and public service loan forgiveness. The budget also proposes creating a single income-driven student loan repayment plan and relocating some mandatory Pell Grant funding to support year-round discretionary Pell Grants. The White House estimates that $143 billion would be saved over a decade by allowing the Perkins Loan program to expire and phasing out subsidized federal student loans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness after next year.

Financial Aid Chief Quits Before House Oversight Hearing. James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, quit a day before he was to appear before the House Oversight Committee. He wrote an email to staff explaining simmering management problems at the agency that culminated in a dispute with DeVos over her insistence that he testify before a congressional oversight panel. The hearing was over improper payment rates for student aid programs—an issue on which Runcie told department officials he was not the expert to speak on before the committee. He claimed the office’s chief financial officer for student aid is the agency’s expert on this and had been prepped to speak. DeVos declined to answer questions about Runcie’s resignation, but an Education Department spokeswoman said he was responsible and “He chose to resign rather than face Congress.” Politicoreports.

Budget Shifts CTE Funding. Under Trump’s proposed budget, career, technical and adult education would be cut by 12%, and the administration would strip $166 million from a grant program that helps states fund career and technical education. The budget also proposes an increase to a federal career and technical program by $20 million to help expand science, technology, engineering and math programs. The Association of Career and Technical Education said the cuts are at odds with the president’s repeated claims that he wants to expand programs to help students prepare for jobs, rather than just four-year college degrees. An Education Department spokeswoman said the administration plans to work with Congress to “reform and improve” this program through the upcoming Perkins Act reauthorization.

Student Aid Report. The Education Commission of the States released a new analysis of states that have expanded or decreased need-based student aid programs.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of May 30, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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