The Department of Education on Friday sent a letter to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, outlining the potential impact that funding cuts would have on higher education and financial aid.
In January, DeLauro asked federal agencies to describe how House Republicans’ reported fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget proposal to cut discretionary spending back to the FY 2022 enacted level and would impact their agencies. According to DeLauro, the reported proposal would cut at least 22% for essential programs.
“The draconian cuts would take away the opportunity for 80,000 people to attend college and impact all 6.6 million students who rely on Pell Grants. If implemented, 200,000 children will lose access to Head Start, and 100,000 children will lose access to child care, undermining early education and parents’ ability to go to work,” DeLauro said in a statement Monday, when she published the agency responses.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona responded in a letter to DeLauro on Friday, outlining some of the impacts on education programs. Cardona noted that because the GOP has yet to formally release its budget proposal, ED assumed that defense funding would be shielded from budget cuts, meaning other agencies would receive about a 22% cut in non-defense discretionary funding. He adds that ED analyzed the impact at two levels — at the FY 2022 enacted levels and 22% below the currently enacted level for FY 2023.
President Joe Biden released his FY 2024 budget proposal on March 9, which requests $90 billion in discretionary funding for ED in 2024, a 13.6% increase from the 2023 enacted level.
Specifically, Cardona stated that cutting ED’s budget by 22% of the FY 2023 level would likely reduce the maximum Pell Grant by nearly $1,000 and decrease the number of recipients to 6.6 million. Additionally, those cuts would eliminate Pell Grants altogether for about 80,000 students. He adds that cutting discretionary funding by 22% without cutting the maximum Pell Grant award would “eliminate the surplus and create a $17 billion shortfall by 2026.”
Additionally, cutting ED’s budget by 22% from currently enacted levels would cut $468 million in federal support to determine, disburse, and service student aid, Cardona wrote, which he said “would have devastating effects” on students and families.
And if funding was capped at the FY 2022 enacted level, those cuts would mean that more student loan borrowers would be impacted with less service hours and longer wait times to receive service. Students and families could experience multiple-hour wait times and reduced call center hours, and requests around aid could be a weeks-long process. Cardona added that “the oversight of the more than 5,500 schools and enforcement of the Higher Education Act would suffer, putting taxpayer dollars at risk.”
When it comes to Federal Work-Study (FWS), a reduction to the FY 2022 enacted level would provide less aid for all program recipients and eliminate FWS financial support for approximately 11,000 students. If ED’s budget was cut by 22% from the currently enacted level, FWS financial support would be cut for about 85,000 students. Cardona added that institutions “would be forced to make impossible decisions around whether to cut essential positions reliant on FWS funds or the amounts that students are able to earn under the program.”
“Cuts on this scale would have very real and damaging impacts on our families, our communities, our economy, and our competitiveness—undermining a broad range of critical services the American people rely on in their everyday lives,” Cardona wrote in the letter.
Publication Date: 3/21/2023