White House Releases FY2017 Budget Request

February 9, 2016 · by mlivolsi · Spark Notes

February 9, 2016

Prepared by: Harrison Wadsworth (hwadsworth@wpllc.net) and Hannah Allen (hallen@wpllc.net)

The White House has released the President’s FY 2017 budget proposal, which builds on themes from the State of the Union Address. The budget proposal for the eighth consecutive year proposes to create a new “Unsubsidized Perkins Loan Program” that would eliminate the existing program and create a new program with loans bearing the same terms and conditions as Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and administered by the Title IV loan servicers. The program would be capped at $8.5 billion per year in lending. The Administration projects profits from interest collections of $305 million in FY 2017, which it proposes using for other purposes.

This is almost identical to the previous budget proposals from the Administration, none of which have passed Congress, nor have drawn any Congressional interest since 2010. Congressional leaders have already stated they are not interested in the final budget from the Obama Administration, but there are ideas in it that do have bi-partisan support, although not the Perkins proposal. The idea of another $8.5 billion being available in federal loans, even unsubsidized, is attractive to some in the higher education community, but support for the traditional, superior Perkins Program is stronger than it has been in years. The Administration’s support for the concept of a campus-based loan program is a positive, even if this particular proposal would eliminate many of the aspects of the current Perkins Loan Program that are most beneficial to students.

The Budget would fund America’s College Promise (ACP), an effort to make two years of community college free for “responsible students.” It would increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,935 per year and would make changes to the Pell Grant program including making grants available year round and offering an extra $300 to students who take at least 15 credits a semester in order to encourage faster completion. It also proposed simplifying the student aid application process, the FAFSA, and “streamlining” education tax benefits.

Other highlights of the Administration’s budget request fall under the theme of “Opportunity for All” and include expansion of efforts across agencies to support early learning and Preschool for All, as well as a new “Computer Science For All” initiative. The plan proposes extending and expanding evidence-based home visiting programs and increases funding for Title I grants to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs). Comprehensive Literacy Grant programs would be funded, as would the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, although the latter would see the maximum amount authorized by the new ESSA–$1 billion, which is less than the funding it received last year. Career and Technical Education programs would see more funding via a $77 million proposed increase. The plan also includes a new grant program to address racial segregation in schools.

While computer science has a high profile in the request, STEM education arguably has a lower one, due in part to the assimilation of the Math Science Partnership program into Title II professional development block grants. Notably, the newly-authorized STEM Master Teacher Corps program would be funded, as would STEM specialty schools.

As is the case every year, the request is just that—a request—and Congress controls the federal purse strings. There are many resources available on the budget request. The full FY 2017 budget request is available here and fact sheets that focus on various issues are here.

ED will also be holding a briefing this afternoon, which will be available via streaming here (select the “Budget Briefing” event).

Please let us know if you have any questions about the budget request.


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