NASFAA Statement on President Trump's 2021 Budget Proposal

While the budget includes several ideas worthy of further consideration, the proposed spending cuts would devastate student access and success.

February 10, 2020 — The Trump administration today released its fiscal year 2021 budget request, which proposes a $5.6 billion cut to Department of Education programs. The $66.6 billion funding request amounts to a 7.8% decrease compared to what was enacted in fiscal year (FY) 2020, and includes alarming cuts to several student aid programs, including eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs, and eliminating subsidized student loans. However, the budget also includes support to allow incarcerated individuals to have access to the Pell Grant, at an estimated cost of $10 million in the first year.

Notably, the budget also included several policy proposals for which NASFAA has advocated, such as allowing financial aid professionals the flexibility to set lower loan limits and require annual loan counseling in certain nondiscriminatory situations, and bringing independent oversight to the Department of Education's Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), to ensure accountability for taxpayers, transparency for policymakers, and collaboration for stakeholders. The proposal also calls for limits to the amount that can be borrowed by graduate students and parents — ideas that NAFSAA has also explored in recent years. 

NASFAA is particularly encouraged by the department's focus on ensuring FSA, a performance-based organization (PBO), runs as efficiently and effectively as possible. It's been over 20 years since FSA was designated a PBO, and while NASFAA supports continued private sector flexibilities that were originally provided the organization, the time has long since come for a governance overhaul that would increase accountability and transparency. 

"The spending cuts in the president's proposed budget would devastate student access and success in postsecondary education, and should continue to be rejected outright by Congress, as has been done in previous years," said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. "But this year's budget also puts forth several ideas worthy of further consideration, such as giving financial aid administrators the authority to limit student loans in certain circumstances, allowing incarcerated individuals the opportunity to receive federal aid to pursue higher education, and bringing much-needed oversight to the Office of Federal Student Aid. We are intrigued by proposed changes to borrowing limits and look forward to future conversations on those topics. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration on those ideas, while disregarding the short-sighted cuts to vital student aid programs." 

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson on President Trump's budget proposal or NASFAA's policy priorities for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, please email Allie Arcese at [email protected] or call (202) 785-6954.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

Publication Date: 2/10/2020

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