Policy & Funding

Trump 2020 Budget Proposal Includes Cuts to Education Programs

The proposal would cut the amount of money dedicated to the U.S. Department of Education by 10 percent at the program level.

If the Trump administration's 2020 budget proposal is enacted, employees at the U.S. Department of Education will have to find a way to get work done with fewer resources. The 2020 budget proposal would slash ED's budget by 10 percent at the program level or $8.5 billion, down to $62 billion.  The 2020 request eliminates 29 programs that do not address national needs, duplicate other programs or are more appropriately supported by state, local or private funds, according to ED's budget request.

"Tough decisions were made, but we made sure that this budget protects our most vulnerable students by requesting level-funding for Title I and IDEA," said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a statement.  "I look forward to working with Congress to pass a budget that truly puts the needs of students, parents, teachers and local leaders first, because it is my sincere belief that if we give them the freedom to break free from the one-size-fits-all 'school system,' we will truly begin to unleash our nation's full potential."

One of the cornerstones of the proposed budget is a DeVos initiative to expand school choice opportunities.  There is $60 million increase from the prior year's budget to $500 million for the
Charter Schools Program, which looks to establish charter schools and replicate and expand existing high-performing charter schools.

The budget also funds the magnet schools program at $107 million and the student-centered funding incentive grants at $50 million.  These grants are designed to increase transparency in education funding and allow more federal, state and local dollars to flow to schools.

When it comes to formula grant programs, the budget maintains Title I grants at $15.9 billion and impact aid programs at $1.4 billion. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs will also get maintained funding with $13.2 billion going to IDEA formulas for states and $225.6 million for competitively awarded grants.

For workforce development, ED would dedicate $1.3 billion for Career and Technical Education state grants and $20 million for CTE national programs.  The national programs would receive $12.6 million in additional funding compared to the 2019 fiscal year due to newly authorized innovation and modernization grants for STEM fields.

The budget proposal also includes $1.8 billion to upgrade the Federal Student Aid servicing system.  FSA's NextGen Financial Services Environment will increase awareness and understanding of financial aid opportunities while improving the program's operational flexibility.

However, the budget makes some controversial choices concerning loan forgiveness plans.  The ED budget wants to eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Subsidized Stafford Loans and the payment of Account Maintenance Fees to guaranty agencies.  As a result, all new undergraduate student loans would be unsubsidized. 

"This budget doesn't fund the future; it does quite the opposite, forfeiting children by yet again cutting the education budget while safeguarding the tax cuts given to the wealthy last year.… Public Service Loan Forgiveness should be expanded, not slashed, and we should be ensuring those who qualify can get the relief they need," said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

The Institute for College Access and Student Success President James Kavaal also criticized cutting Pell Grant funding and eliminating work study funding. "As college remains more crucial for economic opportunity than ever before and costs continue to rise, these proposals move in the exact opposite direction that students and our economy need," he said.

In addition, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities president Peter McPherson expressed his concerns. "Simply put, this budget proposal is misguided and turns its back on many programs and initiatives that are key to the future success of our nation.  We urge Congress to build off its recent work to boost education and research by rejecting this proposal, lifting the budget caps, and continuing to grow investments in these key areas.  Our nation's future success depends on it," he said.

The Trump administration's 2020 budget proposal also recommends lowering the NSF's budget to $7.1 billion, which is a 13 percent decrease from the 2019 fiscal year. NIH would also face a budget cut of $4.5 billion in the 2020 budget.

"Reducing the NSF's budget has the potential to tremendously decrease the United States' ability to innovate. When international competitors outpace us in research and development, our national security is at risk," said Benjamin Corb, public affairs director for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

In the Department of Treasury's budget, there is a new tax credit proposed for state-designated scholarship programs for elementary and secondary school students.  The program is voluntary and is caped at $5 billion a year, according to ED's budget proposal.

The full proposed 2020 budget for ED can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

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