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Trump Budget Proposes Deep Cuts for Student Aid, Research Funding

March 17, 2017

DC columns


​President Trump sent his first budget to Congress Wednesday, a basic spending blueprint (known as a “skinny budget”) that significantly boosts military spending, while cutting foreign aid and an array of domestic programs by the same amount.

This pared-down version of the budget is typically submitted by first-term administrations during their first few months. A broader budget will be released in the spring that will include the White House’s proposals on taxes and entitlements, which represent the bulk of the government spending.

The core of the president’s $1.1 trillion plan would cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the State Department by 28 percent and Health and Human Services by 17.9 percent. He is requesting a 10 percent boost—or $54 billion—for the Department of Defense.

“This is a budget that beats plowshares into swords,” ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed. “It very clearly moves money from the domestic agencies into the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.”
While the skinny budget does not contain detailed information on all programs, what was identified would represent the largest cuts to student aid and research funding proposed in decades.

The budget proposes maintaining the maximum award for Pell Grants, but taking nearly $4 billion in “reserve” funding from the program. Other student aid programs—including Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Teacher Quality Partnerships—would be eliminated. Funding for the TRIO, GEAR UP and Federal Work-Study programs would be significantly reduced, and funding for historically black colleges would remain at current levels.

Some programs are slated for complete elimination, including the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps support the operations of 1,500 locally owned public radio and television stations, and the Corporation for Community and Public Service, which runs AmeriCorps.

The budget also proposes deep cuts in research spending. The National Institutes of Health would be cut by nearly 20 percent, to $25.9 billion. The Office of Science at the Department of Energy (DOE) would be cut by $900 million, and DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is tasked with promoting and funding research and development of advanced energy technologies, would be eliminated.

However, the chances of Trump’s first budget passing Congress in its current form are slim. As Hartle told Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, the Trump administration’s budget faces a complex political battle and is far from a done deal.

“This administration likes big, bold pronouncements, and this certainly qualifies,” he said.

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