Trump laid out the spending priorities for his administration on
Thursday, releasing a budget "blueprint" that includes a $9-billion cut
for the U.S. Department of Education, more than 13 percent, as well as
decreases at several agencies that provide money for academic research,
such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science
Foundation. The administration’s outline also calls for eliminating the
National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the
The deep reductions in discretionary spending fall on
nearly every executive agency, in order to offset more than $50 billion
in increases for the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and
The proposed cuts at the Education Department
include plans to ax several programs that aid primarily low-income and
minority students, while increasing spending for school-choice programs
in elementary and secondary education. Although the administration
recommends largely preserving the existing Pell Grant program — the
primary form of federal aid for needy students — it may sacrifice the
possibility of year-round grants that many in Congress and higher
education have called for.
The administration’s blueprint for the
2018 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, comes with several caveats.
The budget document, known as a "skinny budget," was light on details,
excluding any estimates of projected revenues or mandatory spending on
programs like Medicaid. In addition, the president's plans will have to
pass muster with a majority of Republican members of Congress, who gave
the outline a lukewarm reception.
But the cuts in areas that may disproportionately affect disadvantaged citizens raised alarms among higher-education advocates. —Eric Kelderman
Here are more details of the president’s budget:
a statement, the National Endowment for the Arts said the proposal to
eliminate the agency was a "disappointment," but as a federal agency it
cannot advocate for funding. "We will, however, continue our practice of
educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s
communities," read the statement.
Similarly, William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, lamented the agency’s proposed elimination in a statement.
"We are greatly saddened to learn of this proposal for elimination, as
NEH has made significant contributions to the public good over its 50-year history,
read Mr. Adams’s statement. But, he said, "we must abide by this budget
request as this initial stage of the federal budget process gets under
Both agencies said that they would work with the Office of
Management and Budget during the budget process, and that their fate in
the 2018 fiscal year ultimately lies with Congress, which will determine
the agencies’ funding levels.
President Trump’s budget also
proposes to eliminate funding for 19 independent agencies, like the
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the U.S. African
Development Foundation, and the Appalachian Regional Commission. (The
budget also would reduce spending for the State Department’s Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs but would focus on "sustaining" the
department’s flagship Fulbright Program for international exchange.) —Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz
Pell Grants Protected, but Some Surplus Taken
February, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican speaker of the
House of Representatives, expressed support for year-round Pell Grant
funding, saying that it "makes a lot of sense." But he is not the first
congressional Republican to back the idea. The battle to restore
year-round funding for the program, which helps pay college costs for
students who demonstrate financial need, has seen bipartisan support
since it was eliminated, in 2011.
But while President Trump’s
proposed outline wouldn’t cut the program, it does call for the
cancellation of $3.9 billion in carryover Pell funding. As it currently
stands, the Pell Grant program runs a surplus of more than $10 billion
thanks to a change in the eligibility requirements for students.
President Trump’s proposal would siphon off some of that money,
reallocating it to other parts of the government. Last year lawmakers pre-emptively fought
to prevent that very thing from happening.
B. King Jr., the second education secretary under President Barack
Obama, said the cuts would be "draconian." Mr. King, who is now
president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization for
students, said that if the cuts suggested in the proposal were enacted,
"all students, particularly students of color and low-income students,
throughout the entire continuum of our education system, would suffer." —Adam Harris
Programs for Low-Income Students
proposed budget includes nearly $200 million in cuts for federal
programs that help disadvantaged students make it into and through
college. Those include an umbrella of eight outreach programs, called
TRIO, that support the progress of low-income, first-generation, and
disabled students, starting in middle school.
Also on the chopping block, with a proposed 32-percent reduction, is the competitive grant program Gear Up.
provides six to seven years of support for tutoring, mentoring,
scholarships, and other services to low-income students and families.
The program follows them from middle school through high-school
graduation and sometimes into their first year of college. Counselors
help parents understand the benefits of college and how to apply for
Ranjit Sidhu, president of the National Council for
Community and Education Partnerships, said Gear Up offers a solid
return on investment. In 2014, 77 percent of program participants
enrolled in a postsecondary institution right after high school,
according to federal statistics. That compares with 45.5 percent of
low-income students over all.
The proposed cuts are troubling at a time when a new report shows
that growing numbers of students are hungry and homeless, said Josh
Wyner, vice president of the Aspen Institute and executive director of
its College Excellence Program for community colleges.
"If we want
an educated work force and we have growing numbers of students with
significant out-of-classroom needs, it stands to reason that we would
double down on the supports they need, not cut them," he said.
Not all of the programs under the TRIO umbrella have been effective, Mr. Wyner said, but wholesale cuts are "shortsighted."
outline also suggests cuts in Federal Work-Study and the Supplemental
Educational Opportunity Grant — a federal grant for low-income students
that would be completely eliminated under the outline. Meanwhile,
funding for work-study would be cut "significantly," with money
redirected to students who needed it most, according to the proposal.
Federal funds for a variety of job-training programs for seniors and
disadvantaged youth would also be cut.
"Employers need skilled
workers," said Maria K. Flynn, president of Jobs for the Future, a
national nonprofit organization. "Cutting programs that support
America’s current and future work force is problematic," she said, and
inconsistent with the president’s stated focus on creating jobs. She
said she was encouraged, though, that the proposed budget would help
states expand apprenticeships. —Katherine Mangan
Claims of HBCU Support ‘Ring Hollow’
Trump’s budget calls for maintaining federal support to historically
black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions
to the tune of $492 million. But it does not propose new funding, which
had been a key request from HBCU presidents who attended a prominent meeting
with President Trump last month.
The meeting generated controversy, including when Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, issued a statement saying HBCUs were "real pioneers" on school choice.
Some HBCU presidents, who had come to Washington with an eye on more
federal funding, called the meeting a rough start to what needed to be a
With the proposed elimination of the
supplemental-grant program and the cancellation of surplus Pell funding,
the "skinny budget" does not move that relationship along.
than three weeks ago, this administration claimed it is a priority to
advocate for HBCUs," said Alma Adams, a Democratic congresswoman from
North Carolina. "But, after viewing this budget proposal, those calls
Michael J. Sorrell, president of the historically
black Paul Quinn College, in Dallas, said nothing in the budget
blueprint should come as a shock. "It’s what he promised," said Mr.
Sorrell. "When someone says the goal is to deconstruct the
administrative state, these are the types of things you expect." The
burden now falls to Congress to decide whether that vision is
acceptable, he added.
Congressional Republican leaders affirmed
last month that they would be advocates for HBCUs, Mr. Sorrell said.
"These are the moments when this relationship will be tested."
"If you want to be an advocate," he said, "fight for us." —Adam Harris
Deep Cuts in Research Spending — if They Stick
Trump administration’s proposed budget would slash billions of dollars
in federal spending on research. By pairing those cuts with restrictive
immigration policies, many university leaders said, the president has
launched a dangerous assault on the United States' pre-eminence in
science and technology.
The Trump plan would cut the budget of the
National Institutes of Health by 18 percent — from $31.7 billion to
$25.9 billion — while promising "a major reorganization of NIH’s
institutes and centers."
The budget would wipe out a range of
federal environmental and climate programs, including the Advanced
Research Projects Agency-Energy, a project Mr. Trump’s energy secretary,
Rick Perry, described just last week as a "key to advancing America’s
Even some of Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans were
aghast. "I think the president is insane," said John Edward Porter, a
former Republican congressman from Illinois who once led the House
subcommittee responsible for funding the NIH and other key health
"This budget is a budget that plays with his base," said
Mr. Porter, who now serves on the board of Research!America, a broad
association that includes academic and corporate backers of research.
"But as far as a serious document that could be supported by the
Congress, it is certainly not anywhere likely to happen."
probable, Mr. Porter said, is that Congress approves an increase for the
NIH on the order of $1 billion to $2 billion, given how strongly
members of both parties support medical research. Lawmakers are likely
to treat the suggestion of realigning NIH’s divisions as "ridiculous,"
The Trump budget plan made no mention of the National
Science Foundation, apparently leaving the NSF figure for the more
detailed budget plan expected later in the spring, but it called for a
combined 9.8-percent cut in the budgets of all agencies not listed
"If they were to be enacted, these cuts signal the
end of the American century as a global innovation leader," said Robert
D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation
Foundation, an industry-financed think tank. "The Trump budget throws
this great legacy away and is putting us on the path to being an economy
that is a hewer of wood and drawer of water."
Still, even if
Republicans on Capitol Hill reject the administration’s proposed cuts,
lawmakers have a recent track record of holding any increases in federal
spending on scientific research near the overall rate of inflation.
the NIH and NSF have "plenty of bipartisan support in Congress," said
Barry Toiv, a spokesman for the Association of American Universities,
which represents major research institutions. "However, if Congress goes
along with deep overall cuts in non-defense discretionary funding,
significant cuts to research spending are almost inevitable." —Paul Basken