With President Trump on the
European leg of his first trip abroad, the White House yesterday released a $4.1
trillion budget proposal for FY 2018 that makes deep cuts to higher education
and other domestic programs, including ending subsidies for some undergraduate
student loans, eliminating the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and
cutting the Federal Work-Study Program by $490 million. The proposal fleshes out
budget” the administration released in March and details additional cuts to
In a statement,
ACE President Molly Corbett Broad said the cuts outlined in the full budget
plan would have a crushing impact on low-income and working-class Americans.
“President Trump's proposed FY 2018 budget envisions drastic cuts to federal student aid and research funding
of a magnitude not seen in nearly four decades,” she
said. “If enacted, these reductions would have a devastating impact on the
United States’ long-term economic growth and seriously undermine economic
opportunity for many low- and middle-income Americans.”
“It's cutting across the board,
cutting indiscriminately in every program," Jon Fansmith, ACE director of
government relations told Inside Higher Ed last week when details of the president’s budget were leaked to The Washington Post. “This is not
about a policy disagreement. It's not about a change in course.”
Other provisions targeting
higher education include eliminating Supplemental Educational Opportunity
Grants, allowing the Perkins Loan program to expire, and phasing out both the
National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Spending that supports
international education programs and exchanges, such as the Fulbright Scholar
program, would be cut by 55 percent.
One bright spot in the president’s plan: It includes support for year-round Pell Grants, which was reinstated
in the bill
that funded the remainder of FY 2017 in April and which ACE has long
On the research front, the proposed cuts are equally drastic. The president would cut the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 18 percent, from $31.8 billion to $26 billion, and cut the National Science Foundation by 10.7 percent. Research funding at other agencies (such as the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) are also significantly reduced, with
early analysis showing a 17 percent cut in overall research funding.
It is important to remember that the president's budget has no binding authority on Congress, and almost all of these proposals require legislative action to be enacted. Congress already has shown it has different funding priorities than the president with the FY 2017 funding bill, most notably by increasing spending for NIH by $2 billion.
The next step in the budget process will be for the House and Senate Budget Committees to write and then pass budget resolutions of their own. These resolutions also are non-binding but serve as a roadmap for the appropriations process and set overall spending limits for federal agencies.