Conservative Think Tank’s Budget Proposal Includes Education Funding Cuts, Repeal of Gainful Employment Regs

By Brittany Hackett, Communications Staff

Reducing the federal budget and eliminating "wasteful" programs is the name of the game in the Heritage Foundation’s fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint, released on Tuesday, which includes proposed funding cuts to many education-related programs and aims to reduce the role of the federal government in both k-12 and higher education.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, DC, issues its budget blueprint annually as a guide for the annual congressional budget. 

"Congress should put the budget on a path to balance, while strengthening national defense and without raising taxes, to enable economic growth to raise living standards—for all Americans," according to the blueprint. "In order for Americans to achieve better lives, Congress must take steps to allow Americans to build a stronger economy, a stronger society, and a stronger defense."

Among its recommendations related to education, Heritage calls for the Department of Education (ED) to rescind the Obama administration’s gainful employment regulations that took effect on July 1, 2015. The regulations "could limit opportunities for non-traditional students in particular, who may choose a for-profit institution because of its flexibility and affordability," the blueprint states. "The Trump [a]dministration should enable private for-profit and vocational colleges to continue to serve students who have been historically underserved by traditional universities by repealing" the regulations.

Other education-related policy recommendations include:

  • Significant cuts to funding for Head Start and grant programs under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);
  • A move to ED using fair-value accounting, which takes market-risk into account when estimating the cost of federal student loan programs;
  • Halting the implementation of new overtime regulations, which have already been delayed due to a temporary injunction issued late 2016; and
  • Reducing the funding for ED’s Office of Civil Rights by 50 percent, which would save $57 million in FY 2018.

Heritage’s budget blueprint comes several weeks after the Trump administration released its "skinny budget" outlining its policy priorities. That budget included significant cuts to certain federal student aid programs, and decreased the Pell Grant Program surplus.

Overall, President Donald Trump proposed a 13 percent decrease to education spending. The budget also proposed eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program, removing $4 billion from the Pell Grant surplus – which would not immediately result in a Pell Grant decrease – and significantly decreasing funding for the Federal Work-Study program. The proposal also suggested reforming the FWS program to redirect funds to "undergraduate students who would benefit most."

All of these reductions would be done in an effort to "focus on streamlining and simplifying funding for college," according to the budget document. This budget proposal would affect student aid funding for the 2018-19 year. 

Trump’s full budget is expected to be released sometime in May.

 

Publication Date: 3/29/2017


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