Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the Trump Administration released the summary of its FY21 budget proposal. In response to a nearly 10 percent funding cut for the Department of Education, which included cuts to critical postsecondary investments, IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., issued the following statement:
"The Trump Administration's proposed FY21 spending plan fails to meet the need's of today's students and cuts investment in higher education that is critically needed to prepare our nation for tomorrow's economy. Instead of bolstering funding for the Department of Education, the plan proposes a nearly 10 percent department-wide cut that would weaken critical programs and, in turn, obstruct the pathway to mobility for millions of students.
"The Pell Grant, which this budget proposes to keep flat at $6,345, has helped millions of students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds achieve their dream of a college education and has strengthened our communities, economy, and nation in the process. While Pell Grants once covered over half the costs at a public four-year college, stagnant investment and rising prices mean they now cover less than one-third of those expenses. Unfortunately, this proposal does nothing to reverse that trend. We urge appropriators to increase funding for our nation's most important financial aid program.
"The proposed elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and cuts to the Federal Work-Study Program are deeply disappointing. These federal need-based aid programs are critical sources of higher education funding for students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds and we ask appropriators to fully fund them.
"Finally, by eliminating funding for Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) and cutting funding for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), this budget proposal would limit state and federal policymakers' capacity to make evidence-based decisions informed by high-quality data. We urge appropriators to reject these cuts and renew full funding for SLDS and IES.
"We are encouraged to see the FY21 proposal reinstate federal Pell Grant eligibility for certain currently-incarcerated students and the emphasis on quality programming, including offering academic and career supports. However, by including student eligibility restrictions, the proposal misses a critical opportunity to support those who have historically been underserved in our higher education system. These restrictions do not reflect the current bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill and limit the potential impact of prison-based higher education programs to disrupt the cycle of mass incarceration and strengthen communities across the country. While this budget can be seen as a step forward, we ask appropriators to oppose eligibility restrictions and restore Pell Grant eligibility for all students who are incarcerated.
"As we enter this new decade, we know that postsecondary attainment is more critical to individuals, families, communities, and our local, state, and national economies than ever before. Now is the time for major investment - not cuts - in critical programs that work to promote college access, affordability, and success. We call on appropriators to recognize the value of higher education, reject harmful cuts, and ensure investments in today's students match both their need and immense potential."