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  • Budget request to Congress from President Obama to boost higher education
  • Posted By:
  • Jamie K
  • Posted On:
  • 07-Feb-2015
  • A budget request was sent by our President to the Congress recently to enhance higher education federal funding and to change certain student loan repayment options in order to garner savings for the government.

    In this request, the administration has focused upon previously proposed and recently announced policy proposals. Some of the proposals include rewarding colleges that graduate low income students in large numbers through bonus grant programs, higher education tax break streamlining and free community colleges for certain students.

    Out of these proposals there are chances that some of them may get attention such as the one that focuses on streamlining student aid programs. Most of the other funding related proposals are just aspirational as we all know that Congress is controlled by Republicans.

    In the request, the $60.3 billion tuition-free community college plan details are mentioned. This facility will be given for students with below $200,000 gross adjusted incomes and those who maintain 2.5 GPA. Participating states will receive matching grants in the program on transfer and graduation rates and enrolment levels.

    Listing certain proposals for change in Pell Grants, the budget calls for an increase in the maximum grant that is presently at $5,775 a year. The request seeks to enhance this funding to $5,915 for the year 2016-17.

    Other Pell Grant changes sought by the administration include placing tighter requirements for recipients with respect to academic progress and limiting access to the grant for those who do not earn academic credits and repeatedly enrol in the program. The administration also proposes to offer the “ability to benefit” program for students who do not hold a high school diploma.

    Another proposal detailed in the request by the administration is to hold back certain benefits offered by the federal repayment programs that are income based. The eventual $14.6 billion savings could be channelized to the Pell Grant program.

    This proposal is in line with the one previously put forth for streamlining loan repayment options in the Senate. For income-based repayment, reforms of this kind were previously backed by the Education Department.

    Another proposal put forth in the request is to overhaul the Perkins Loan Program. Again, the resultant $7.1 billion cost savings will be channelized to Pell Grants. Perkins proposal calls for student loan disbursement directly by the government to students. Student outcome metrics will be tied to program eligibility for colleges.

    Under the administration proposal, other aid programs that are campus based such as Federal Work Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants will see the same level of funding.
    Another proposal put forth by the administration called the FAFSA Simplification aims at reducing number of questions from 108 to 30 on the student aid application form. In the overall questions, those related to untaxed income, assets, savings, net worth and investment will be eliminated.

    For the upcoming fiscal year, the Obama administration has reduced funding request for college rating system development from last year’s $10 million to zero. According to officials, the rating system will be funded by the existing budget money.

    For the first time, the administration has put in a clear request to tighten fund flow to for-profit colleges. The proposal includes request for more money to fight cases related to sexual assault on campuses through federal investigations.


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