Latest White House Budget Once Again Slashes Student Aid, Research Funding
February 12, 2020

​​Proposal has little chance of being enacted

President Trump on Monday called for $5.6 billion in cuts to the Department of Education’s budget for FY 2021, a move that would weaken critical higher education programs that support low- and middle-income students and families.

The “Budget for America’s Future” also would reduce funding for scientific research across most federal agencies.

The proposal largely echoes the past three budget requests from the Trump White House, which Congress each year has declined to support. Last year’s final spending package for FY 2020 allocated $72.8 billion to the Education Department, $8.7 billion above what the president had requested.

Among the provisions this year, the administration again wants to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs, and give campuses more choice in limiting borrowing by individual students. It also would cut the Federal Work-Study Program by more than half, and level-fund Pell Grants so the maximum award remains flat at $6,345.

On the research front, the budget request cuts overall research funding at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 7 percent. In the face of a similar request last year, the final FY 2020 spending bill boosted funding for NIH by $2.6 billion, a 6.5 percent hike, and for NSF by $203 million, a 2.5 percent increase.

In terms of new proposals, the administration suggests opening Pell Grants to students in nontraditional, short-term programs and to certain students who are incarcerated. The budget also would significantly increase funding for technical and career education.

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. 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.

Related Content​

Budget for America's Future
White House Office of Management and Budget

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