In President Obama’s budget proposals for fiscal year (FY) 2013, announced today, he repeated messages delivered last month in his State of the Union address and at the University of Michigan: education is one of the keys to keeping the American promise alive and institutions are on notice about out of control tuition increases.
Again, I applaud the President for his commitment to education and for the fact that he clearly understands that improving America’s current status and future standing depends on our willingness to invest in education. The budget contains support for policies important to AASCU including funding for good teachers in the K-12 sector; calling on Congress to maintain the current interest rate on federal student loans; doubling the number of work-study students over the next five years, and permanently extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
The President’s budget includes requests for the following:
- Level funding for the Pell Grant Program that will support a Pell Grant maximum award of $5,635;
- Investing more funds in the Work-Study Program, while maintaining level funding for the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants;
- Increasing the Perkins Loan Program to $8.5 billion;
- Level funding for all of the institutional support programs including the TRIO and GEARUP programs;
- Creating a Race to the Top: College Affordability and Completion account in the amount of $1 billion complemented by a $70 million request for the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE).
Many of the President’s proposals still lack the clarity and definition to make them successful and effective. While we concur that controlling costs and seeking efficiencies is important—an area where AASCU institutions have been successful despite dealing with draconian state funding cuts—the emphasis on linking tuition increases to campus-based federal support is troubling. AASCU is committed to working with President Obama on a number of these initiatives in order to minimize the negative impact on students. We, and our members, also are dedicated to ensuring that public four-year institutions remain affordable and accessible, while continuing to deliver a quality education. We are committed to the American promise.