House Republicans on Tuesday released their fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget resolution, which includes proposals to freeze maximum Pell Grant awards and address student loan debt.
The 146-page budget, created by House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-Ga.), would maintain spending ceilings under a 2011 budget deal and would cut a total of $5.5 trillion in projected spending over the next decade.
While the blueprint released yesterday is light on specifics, its education-related proposals center on addressing the shortfall in Pell Grant award levels by “targeting [it] to students who need the most assistance.” How such targeting would be accomplished is unclear at this time.
According to the resolution, changes made in recent years to the need analysis formula contributed to a 14 percent increase in the program from 2008 to 2011, allowing students from higher income levels to be eligible for the grant.
In an effort to get the Pell Grant Program back to a “sustainable” level, Price’s resolution proposes freezing the maximum award of $5,775 for the 2015-16 award year. The freeze would last throughout the 10-year budget window.
Price’s budget resolution also proposes a new framework to address rising higher education costs and student debt levels. The framework, according to the proposal, would more efficiently use federal funding, account for student loans “in a way that reflects their true cost,” and allow for investment in a higher education system that is sustainable and beneficial for students, institutions, and taxpayers. The budget also proposes removing barriers to innovative learning models, such as online education and competency-based learning.
Importantly, the budget resolution also includes instruction for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to achieve $1 billion in deficit reduction over a ten year period, for fiscal years (FY) 2016-2025. This could result in programmatic changes, but at this point there are no details on how this amount of savings will be achieved.
This represents the opening salvo in the budget process, which has a long road from now until the beginning of the next fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. For more on the budget process, stay tuned to NASFAA’s Today’s News and check out NASFAA’s interactive Federal Budget Process Tool!
Publication Date: 3/18/2015