Leaked Trump education budget draft proposes $10.6 billion in spending cuts

The Washington Post recently obtained a leaked copy of the Trump administration's fullest education budget to date—and it's full of funding cuts.

The full budget is expected to be released early this week, meaning the documents depict a version of the plan that is nearly finalized, the Post reports.

Since Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos favor local and state control for education over federal oversight, the proposed budget would eliminate many federally funded programs, including but not limited to:

  • The Child Care Access Means Parents in School program, which provided child care for low-income college students, $15 million;
  • Programs for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students, $65 million;
  • International education and foreign language programs, $72 million;
  • Special Olympics education programs, $12 million;
  • The Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant;
  • An arts education program, $27 million;
  • A gifted students program, $12 million; and
  • The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

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And those are just the programs that would be cut entirely. Programs that will continue to exist but will see significant slashes to their budgets include:

  • Promise Neighborhoods, a program to build support networks for needy children, would lose $13 million;
  • Grants to states for career and technical education, would lose $168 million;
  • The subsidized loans program, would lose $8 billion;
  • The federal work-study program, would lose $487 million;
  • Adult basic literacy instruction, would lose $96 million.

The Education Department also detailed in the document a new plan for income-based student loan repayment, which would require students to pay a higher percentage of their income in interest each month and would take longer to reach forgiveness eligibility.

The income-based loan payment program that is currently in place, Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE), caps monthly payments at 10% of discretionary income for both undergraduate and graduate degree holders, and forgives remaining debt after 20 years and 25 years for undergraduate and graduate degree holders, respectively.

The new proposal ups the monthly payment gap to 12.5% of borrowers' income, and revises the forgiveness periods to 15 and 30 years for undergraduate and graduate degree holders, respectively.

Ben Miller, a senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, says the prolonged forgiveness period would not be good news for graduate students—who would likely need to refinance their loans at a higher rate.

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Pell Grants under the proposed budget would be expanded over the course of the next decade, but the maximum award allowed—$5,920—would not. The budget plan does not lay out plans to adjust the awards based on inflation.

So what does the Education Department plan to do with all of the money that will be available after these significant—totaling $10.6 billion—cuts?

Since Trump and DeVos strongly support school choice, charter, and religious schools, the proposed budget includes $400 million in spending to expand charter schools as well as vouchers for religious and private schools. An additional $1 billion would be paid to persuade public schools to take up choice-friendly regulations, and $250 million will be spent on research grants to study the impacts of these vouchers.

Many express concerns that the cuts will be detrimental to higher education—particularly in terms of access for low-income students. For this reason, combined with the unpopularity of DeVos and vouchers, the budget proposal is expected to meet significant resistance in Congress, the Post reports.

Representative Robert Scott (D-Va.) argues the cuts could make college impossible for underserved student populations.  "We've been able to keep the doors to college open regardless of income," he says. "It would be a disgrace if we turn the clock back" (Brown/Douglas-Gabriel, Strauss, Washington Post, 5/17; Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post, 5/17).

What Trump's proposed billions in education cuts would mean for higher ed

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