Federal financial support for low-income undergraduate students — in the form of Pell Grants — stays alive as other grants are killed in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for 2018.
The budget proposal, released Thursday, keeps the Pell Grant program, but reduces funds for it by $3.9 billion.
The program has been around since 1972, and the Trump administration says slashing its funding “safeguards” its survival for the next decade.
While pretty much everyone has college loans, grants are a huge factor for undergraduate college students in the United States. The Pell Grant program is the largest federal grant program, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The program sends up to $5,920 to students in families that earn less than $40,000 a year, prioritized for families earning closer to $20,000 or less. A key difference between a Pell grant and a loan is that students don’t have to pay back the grants.
Pell grants are the largest expense in the U.S. Department of Education. The government spent $28.2 billion on Pell grants in the 2015-2016 academic year. The peak in expenditure was $39.1 billion for the 2010-2011 academic year, according to the College Board, citing the U.S. Education Department.
But the need is there. For example, 88% of the student body at New Mexico State University and 80% of the population at Texas A&M received Pell grants in the 2014-15 academic year, per The Economist.
The #TrumpBudget also proposes totally eliminating the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program.
FSEOGs supply $100-$4,000 a year for students with financial need, according to the U.S. Department of Education. This federal educational grant is different from others because it is campus-based and sent directly to the financial aid office, not to the student. Availability is based on the individual need and also on the school’s funds.
The Trump administration argues FSEOGs are “a less well targeted way to deliver need-based aid than the Pell Grant program.” They note that killing this program will “save $732 million.”
These Pell and FSEOG grant funding changes are part of an overall $9 billion U.S. Education Department cut.
Will this budget — including these budget cuts to student grants — go into effect? That comes down down to Congress, which has the ability to approving or reject the budget.
Source: USA Today