Republican Budget Proposal Slashes Higher Education Spending, Eliminates Grant Programs

A preliminary budget proposal from House Republicans would cut the Department of Education's budget by 28%.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on July 18, 2023
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  • The House Appropriations Committee released its fiscal year 2024 education budget draft July 13.
  • The plan would eliminate some grant programs for low-income students.
  • It would also cut funding for Federal Student Aid just before the office implements a new FAFSA.
  • HBCUs would not receive grants for research infrastructure improvements under this proposal.

Higher education programs would see substantial cuts under a Republican-led budget proposal for fiscal year 2024.

Republicans on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee released their draft budget proposal for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on Thursday. That proposal would cut the Department of Education's (ED) budget by $22 billion (28%) compared to fiscal year 2023, according to the National College Attainment Network (NCAN).

The drastic proposed cuts quickly incited opposition from higher education advocacy groups, including NCAN and the United Negro College Fund.

Beyond the high-level $22 billion proposed cut to ED spending, the Republican proposal also:

  • Cuts funding to Federal Student Aid (FSA) by $263 million, just before the office begins implementing a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Eliminates the Federal Work-Study Program and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Freezes the maximum Pell Grant award at $7,395
  • Fails to re-up a $50 million grant program for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to improve research infrastructure

This is not the final budget proposal the House of Representatives will move over to the U.S. Senate.

This draft proposal went through markup in various House subcommittees last week. It will now move to the full House Appropriation Committee before being finalized and sent to the Senate. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, meaning there will likely be a lengthy negotiation process to strike a final budget agreement for fiscal year 2024.

Still, a final budget isn't likely to please higher education advocacy groups.

President Joe Biden and Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy reached a deal in late May to raise the national debt ceiling. That deal also caps non-defense spending in 2024 and 2025, essentially amounting to budget cuts over the next two years once you take into account projected inflation.

BestColleges reported in June that this deal will likely complicate President Biden's plan to double the maximum Pell Grant by 2029.

This proposal is the first sign that this may happen. While the budget proposal does not cut the Pell Grant program, it fails to increase the maximum award.

"This level is wildly insufficient to cover the rising cost of college and halts the strong progress Congress has made in recent years towards restoring the eroding purchasing power of the program," NCAN said in a statement.

Eliminating the Federal Work-Study (FSW) Program and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) would also significantly impact low- and middle-income households.

FSW provides funds to colleges and universities to employ students in part-time jobs to help them afford higher education. According to ED, approximately 3,400 institutions participate in the program.

FSEOG is a federal program that provides funds to colleges and universities to award to students with "exceptional financial need," according to FSA. Students can receive between $100 and $4,000 per year.