As the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, ACE welcomes many of the proposals included in the president’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Request. In particular, by restoring the arbitrary and destructive cuts imposed by sequestration, the president has demonstrated that he recognizes that education and research are the building blocks of a stronger economy.
We greatly appreciate the president’s call for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In combination with other funding increases across the budget, the president’s request represents a 9.2 percent overall boost in non-defense research and development spending. At a time when innovation and our economy are inextricably linked, these proposed investments represent a smart bet on American students and scientists.
Furthermore, the president has continued his strong commitment to the Pell Grant Program, with a plan that would ensure its stability for the next several years. As the foundational student aid program, it is critical that students and educators know that Pell Grants will be available, and at what levels, as they make their education plans.
The president also calls for a $150 million increase in the Federal Work Study Program, and provides level funding for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, TRIO and GEAR UP Programs. Maintaining funding for these programs helps millions of low-income students realize their dreams of a college education.
Many organizations have expressed concern about the President’s proposal to move all federal student loans to a market-based interest rate. Whether the higher education community embraces this proposal in whole or in part, President Obama has put an important idea forward that is designed to prevent the imminent doubling of student loan interest rates. It provides a useful compass point in working with Congress and the administration to reform the loan programs to keep borrowing as affordable as possible for students.