SPECIAL EDITION: FY 2011 and 2012 Budgets Share Center Stage This Week
In a confusing clash of timing and priorities, the budgets for FY 2011 and 2012 are both in the limelight this week. As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on a spending bill for the remainder of the current fiscal year, President Obama has released his priorities for the next one. I will have more details on Friday after the dust settles, but in the meantime I wanted to outline what is happening today.
FY 2011 Budget in the House of Representatives
With seven months left in FY 2011, the House is poised this week to vote on a bill (H.R. 1) that would set funding levels for the remainder of the current fiscal year. As we heard last week, cuts in student aid programs are deeper than we originally expected, and the higher education community here in Washington is uniformly opposing the bill. David Warren and I, as co-chairs of the Student Aid Alliance, sent a letter to the House this morning expressing our concerns. We also are preparing a second higher education community letter that will go to the Hill in the coming days.
This morning's Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed both provide good overviews of H.R. 1, which would cut more than $100 billion from domestic discretionary programs. The bill would cut funding to the Pell Grant Program, causing the maximum grant to drop by $845 to $4,705. Funding for Minority-Serving Institutions and Historically Black College and Universities would all be cut back substantially. The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) programs would be eliminated entirely. On the research front, nearly $900 million would be cut from the 2010 budget level for the Energy Department's Office of Science, about $350 million from the National Science Foundation and $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health.
The House is expected to vote on the bill mid-week, but then the measure will move to the Senate, which at this point is much less amenable to deep cuts in domestic spending. I will keep you apprised of developments as they play out in the coming days.
President Obama Releases FY 2012 Budget Request
President Obama released his budget request for the coming fiscal year this morning at a middle school in Baltimore, and I was very pleased to see the strong focus on education and innovation.
The part of the proposal garnering the most attention is its commitment to protect the stability of the Pell Grant Program. The administration's plan is driven by concern over a $20 billion gap in FY 2012 Pell Grant Program funding and projected funding gaps for subsequent years. To stabilize the program's funding in the future, the president proposes taking savings from other areas and using them to maintain the $5,550 maximum award. The savings would be achieved primarily by imposing a moratorium on year-round Pell Grants while the Department of Education studies what has caused costs to escalate so quickly and eliminating the in-school interest exemption for graduate and professional students.
We are pleased that in addition to the Pell Grant Program, the administration continues to support the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), the Perkins Loan and the Federal Work-Study programs. While we do not agree with all the choices made, such as the elimination of the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Program, we support the overall objective of ensuring a viable array of student aid choices anchored by the indispensible Pell Grant Program.
The following links offer some specifics on the president's request:
Office of Management and Budget FY 2012 Budget Overview
Department of Education Budget Briefing
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE