- In his first budget proposal as president, Donald Trump safeguards the federal Pell grant program, and protects funding for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, even amid a proposal that would deliver some of the steepest cuts the U.S. Department of Education has ever seen. However, $3.9 billion in Pell reserves, which many had hoped would go to support summer Pell, has been eliminated.
- Among the proposed cuts is the elimination of the $732 million Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, and a $200 million reduction in funding to the TRIO and GEARUP programs, which help promote college preparedness for disadvantaged students, but which the administration argues there has been "limited evidence on the overall effectiveness in improving student outcomes." Federal Work Study programs, which the president says are poorly allocated, are also to see reductions.
- The FY18 budget request would cut $9.2 billion from the department he's also mentioned eliminating — a 13.5% reduction from the Cabinet-level agency.
While much of the focus of the president's FY18 budget request, released Thursday morning, is on the expansion of school choice and dramatic cuts to other areas, his higher ed proposals have gone largely unmentioned. The president's budget request shows a commitment to only funding those programs which have proven track records of success. This will mean that despite a projected relaxed regulatory environment, institutions that hope to be successful will have to do a better job of articulating the success of the institutions.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for higher education leaders is the importance of federal lobbying and embracing the idea that institutions truly have no permanent friends (or enemies), but do have permanent interests which need promotion at the state and federal level. Leaders in higher education cannot afford to miss opportunities to interface with local and national leaders on the economic impact of their institutions on the surrounding communities, regardless of politics.
Many presidents of historically black colleges and universities faced a tremendous amount of criticism and outcry for their recent meeting with the president, however in a budget that requests historic cuts to the U.S. Department of Education, Trump protected these institutions and heralded their track records in working with underrepresented students, a message which was obviously well-conveyed by leaders during their recent meeting.