Obama Administration Proposes $1.7 Billion Increase in Education Funding— Yet Level Funds TRIO.

Posted by on Friday, March 9, 2012 19:39 - 0 Comments

On February 13, 2012, President Obama released his FY 2013 budget request to Congress. In this request, the President placed a high priority on education, requesting $1.7 billion in additional funding for the agency—a 2.5% increase over FY 2012 levels. In fact, the Department of Education received the largest proposed increase of any non-security cabinet-level agency. The funding request focused heavily on higher education, reflecting the Administration’s current concerns about college affordability, job training, and innovation. Specifically, the budget proposed to invest $1 billion in a new Race to the Top Competition focused on college affordability and completion as well as $55 million for a First in the World Competition for institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, and others “to develop, evaluate, or scale up innovative and effective strategies for improving college completion outcomes while lowering costs and increasing the quality and capacity of higher education.” The President’s budget also proposed to invest $8 billion over three years into a new “Community College to Career Fund,” which would be jointly administered by the Departments of Education and Labor. (This effort would build off of the $2 billion community college investment created in the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.)

In contrast to these broad investments in new initiatives, the Administration opted to recommend level-funding—that ultimately translates into a funding cut—for TRIO, GEAR UP, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and virtually every other higher education program. The lone bright spots
occurred among financial aid programs. The Pell Grant, for example, will increase by $85 to $5,635 in the 2013–2014 academic year; this increase results from the language in the reconciliation act noted above, which mandates that the Pell Grant increase in accordance with the Consumer Price Index. Meanwhile, the Administration proposes to boost Federal Work-Study funding by $150 million; this is part of a larger plan to double the size of the program over the next several years. Finally, the President’s proposal would prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans from doubling and maintain the current interest rate of 3.4 percent. Due to the contentious nature of funding debates in Congress, experts agree that legislators are unlikely to adopt many of the proposals contained in the President’s budget. In fact, Members of Congress will likely put off passing any funding legislation until after the November elections. This gives TRIO advocates a significant amount of time to convince legislators of the need for increased funding. The public policy team at COE will continue to work closely with the TRIO community to successfully secure increased funds to support our students and programs in FY 2013.

– Article originally posted Council for Opportunity in Education March 2012 edition of Equity.

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