Despite the uncertainty surrounding financial aid funding in the 2018 federal budget, Yale students on financial aid will not be affected, University officials say.
President Donald Trump’s first proposed budget plan — dubbed “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — calls for deep cuts to federal financial aid programs. The proposal seeks to eliminate Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, or FSEOGs, and remove $3.9 billion from the surplus of Pell Grants, as well as freeze the maximum award for Pell Grants at $5,920 per year for up to six years. Both FSEOGs and Pell Grants serve undergraduates with high financial need and do not need to be repaid.
University Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi ’75 said reduced support for federal financial aid programs will have significant repercussions for the many colleges that rely solely on federally-provided aid. But, he said, Yale students benefit from the University’s commitment to meeting the full demonstrated need of all students, adding that in the past, when funding from outside sources was cut, Yale was able to replace it with institutional resources.
“I am confident we would be able to follow through with that commitment in the face of aid policy changes at the federal level,” Storlazzi said.
For domestic students at Yale whose financial aid packages cover the full cost of tuition and room and board, the federal programs currently cover a component of their full demonstrated need. According to Storlazzi, Yale College has approximately 500 FSEOG recipients and 870 Pell Grant recipients. Both Storlazzi and University President Peter Salovey also emphasized that students on financial aid will not be affected by federal cuts.
Schools participating in the FSEOG program receive a certain amount of money from the federal government each year and then distribute the funds to students, according to the website of the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. The amount of money students can get as a part of this program ranges from $100 to $4,000. Unlike Pell Grants, which are given to all eligible students, the number of FSEOGs that a school issues and the awards it offers are contingent on how much funding the school receives for that purpose.
The proposed budget plan also weighs an overhaul of the federal loan system. The changes would leave students without the option to take out a loan that does not accrue interest while they are in college.
In an interview with the News, Salovey maintained that if federal funding for financial aid is cut, Yale would cover the deficit.
Federal investment in financial aid is paramount to making higher education accessible to low-income students, Salovey said. He added that he has long been an advocate for the expansion of the Pell Grant program and that he would be “disappointed” in any proposal that seeks to minimize that assistance.
Salovey, who has previously stressed his aspiration to be a “presence in Washington,” added that during his lobbying trips to the nation’s capital, federal funding for financial aid is one of his priorities.
And according to federal lobbying disclosure forms, Associate Vice President for Federal and State Relations Richard Jacob and Associate Director of the Office of Federal Relations Kara Haas have since early this year advocated for Pell Grant and campus-based aid programs to be included in the 2018 budget.
Earlier this month, the American Council on Education, or ACE, a higher education advocacy group of which Yale is a member, wrote a letter of opposition to the House’s budget resolution, which calls for the Education Workforce Committee to reduce spending on education and workforce programs by $20 billion. Such cuts, ACE claims, would seriously jeopardize federal financial assistance programs.
Earlier this month, in order to fast track the budget proposal, the House passed procedural rules reducing the number of votes required for the Senate to approve the bill from 60 to a simple majority. In a statement Wednesday, House Budget Chairman Diane Black, R-TN, said House tax writers will release their tax bill on Nov. 2, one day after the originally expected release date.
There are more than 13 million American college or career school students who receive federal financial aid funding.
Hailey Fuchs | firstname.lastname@example.org
Anastasiia Posnova | email@example.com