“In Unpacked, Brookings experts provide analysis of Trump administration policies and news.”
THE ISSUE: President Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 calls for a 13.5% spending cut to education across K-12 and in aid to higher education.
In total, Trump’s education funding proposal could strain state budgets and make college affordability much more difficult for a number of students.
THE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Trump’s education budget proposal is complicated and there are a number of moving pieces to keep track of.
- While many of the main programs in federal education funding may remain stable under Trump’s budget, a number of deep cuts in K-12 and higher education have been proposed.
- President Trump’s budget proposes a new program under Title I, Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS), with a proposed budget of 1 billion dollars.
- FOCUS is the Trump administration’s proposed vehicle to provide funds to districts that implement certain types of school choice reforms.
- FOCUS funds would not be distributed using the standard Title I formula. For this reason, even though the FOCUS program would be funded with 1 billion dollars, that’s not equivalent to a straightforward increase in traditional Title I program funds.
- President Trump’s budget also proposes a number of significant cuts to programs that fund higher education and that provide financial assistance to low-income students.
- Pell Grants—federal financial aid for higher education— are expected to be funded at a stable rate. But other programs could see cuts. Notably, the federal work-study program, which allows students to pay their college tuition through part-time jobs, would be cut in half under Trump’s proposal.
- If the federal work-study program were funded at the proposed level, it would be the lowest level of funding the program has ever received since the Department of Education began to administer it in 1980.
- The Trump budget also proposes cuts to career and technical education, which could potentially put a higher burden on state policymakers to make up those funds.
- The proposed changes to higher education funding raise concerns from critics that college could become less affordable to those who most need assistance.