With funding for education programs already being at historically low levels, President Donald Trump’s proposed budget seeks to add on to historic cuts and continue the erosion of funding for low-income college students and teacher training programs. In his slimmed-down fiscal 2018 budget request released March 16, Trump seeks to slash the Education Department‘s discretionary funding to $59 billion, or $9.2 billion below fiscal 2017 enacted levels.
Pell Grants are assisting an estimated 7.8 million low-income students attending college this year, would also see cuts from its reserves as Trump proposes slashing $3.9 billion from the program’s $7.8 billion surplus. This could end bipartisan bid to use extra funds to allow students a second Pell Grant for summer classes. Increased Pell Grant funding was a top priority for presidents of and advocates for historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) when they met lawmakers and White House officials in February. While funding for HBCUs would stay the same under Trump’s proposal, 75% of students who attend the institutions rely on the Pell Grants.
In addition to Pell Grants, another $732 million in grants for the neediest of students would be eliminated as it is not as effective in targeting students as Pell, according to Trump’s budget document. The funding for the program would not transfer to the Pell grant either. Programs helping low-income, first generation students prepare and apply for college will also be cut, as well as significantly reducing funding to help employers hire students with financial need for part-time work.
Much of Trump’s budget proposal for education focused on making school choice a central feature of his education policy, with $1.4 billion becoming available for public-private school choice program. The budget encourage states to use the additional $1 billion to Title I to adopt a system so federal funds can follow students to the school of their parents’ choosing. The budget would maintain the $13 billion in funding for educating student with disabilities.