Katie Brazis
May 2017

Sneak Peak at Cuts to Department of Education Budget

The new Department of Education budget proposal is set to be officially released next week, but we’re getting a sneak peak after the Washington Post got a hold of it early. Details still might change before we see the official version, but the core ideas likely won’t. The new Department of Education budget contains a lot of cuts to follow through with plans to trim the budget by 13.6 percent, or $9.2 billion.

The main changes for public education involve movement toward school choice and voucher systems, but we’re going to focus on changes to higher education.

Here’s a brief overview of the changes:

  • The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will be cut. It’s not evident what this means for currently certified borrowers in the program, but the timing is concerning: the first wave of loan forgiveness is expected to happen in only a few months. Many people assume currently approved participants will get the promised forgiveness, but that no new participants will be accepted.
  • The five current income-based repayment plans will be combined into one that benefits undergraduates more than graduate students. The new income-based repayment plan caps payments at 12.5 percent of income, up 2.5 percent from 10 percent. Borrowers with a bachelor’s degree would get loan forgiveness after 15 years, but borrowers with advanced degrees have to wait 30 years for forgiveness. That’s comparable to a mortgage.
  • Subsidized loans will be phased out. Funding for subsidized loans will be reduced by $8 million, while funding for unsubsidized loans will be increased.
  • The total available funds for the Pell grant will increase by $16.3 billion over 10 years. Recipients will be able to use their reward for 3 years, instead of 2, but the total amount won’t increase per recipient, not even adjusting for inflation.
  • Available funds for the Federal Work-Study program that provides part-time jobs to students will be cut by $487 million.
  • The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which supplies grants for undergraduates with uncommonly high financial need, will be eliminated.
  • Funds for TRIO and Gear Up programs, both meant to help prepare students in middle school and high school for college, will be cut by nearly $200 million.
  • All funding for Child Care Access Means Parents in School, which subsidizes campus-based child care services for low-income parents, will be cut.

In this new Department of Education budget, we see the major trend of Trump’s administration to cut expenses, but in this case it’s at the expense of those students who are most in need of help. In the end, this budget is just a proposal. It has to get through Congress, where changes can be made like any other piece of legislation. We’ll see how it looks on the other side.

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Katie Brazis

Katie is a Content Coordinator with a BA in English and a Certificate in Editing and Publishing from CSU, Chico, and a Certificate in Copyediting from UC San Diego Extension. In addition to her professional history in editing, she has a deep love of stories. In her free time — when she’s not trying to tame the wild beast she calls her cat — Katie consumes stories in any form. She reads books and watches shows and movies. She plays cooperative games, both video and board, with her husband and friends. When she chooses to venture outside she keeps her phone handy to catch some virtual Pokemon.

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