President Trump: Cutting financial aid won’t Make America Great Again

Despite a strengthening national economy, President Donald J. Trump’s just-released budget proposal paints a bleak picture for anyone aspiring to earn a college degree, build a successful career, and realize the American Dream.

Not only does it propose a staggering $150 billion in federal cuts to financial aid programs, practically obliterating programs that have made college access possible for hundreds of millions of young people from middle and lower income families.

The number and scope of education programs affected is startling and the impact students, prospective students, and the schools themselves will feel if these cuts are adopted is devastating.

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Among the most alarming aspects of the budget package are a 13.6 percent cut in Department of Education funding, a nearly 20 percent reduction for the National Institutes of Health, the largest federal funder of biomedical research, and elimination of the Perkins Loan program, subsidized federal loans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

 

The underlying message of President Trump’s first Executive Budget is clear: The federal government is no longer interested in helping young people finance a college degree as they seek to build a bright and prosperous future.

Instead, the Trump administration seeks to shift this critical responsibility to the states, which can ill afford such a fiscal burden, and to students themselves, forcing them to mortgage their futures for decades.

If Trump is truly committed to making America great again, he would be wise not to cut funding for our future leaders – today’s college students.

The cost of a quality education remains a strategic and worthwhile investment, but for the majority of young people who want a degree it’s a significant expense that requires they leverage all available institutional aid, scholarship opportunities and federal financial aid.

Many must also take on part-time and even full-time employment while carrying a full-time course load. The President’s proposal to eliminate financial aid options that have served as an essential lifeline for so many middle and lower income students shocks the conscience and needlessly imposes a burden that is beyond reason.

In pressing such a draconian measure, Trump’s administration is forcing an impossible choice on young people seeking a better life through higher education: Assume a formidable financial burden that will follow them for decades or give up the dream of a college education altogether. In order to make America great again, the Trump administration must not only create jobs, it must also ensure a continuing source of individuals qualified to fill these positions.

The only way it can achieve this is through continued federal support of grants, subsidies, funded work study, low or no interest loans, loan forgiveness, and other proven assistance programs.

In gutting essential financial aid initiatives, the Trump Administration would stifle opportunity and create obstacles for those seeking a college degree.

Our nation was founded on a fundamental belief that the American Dream is open to anyone willing to invest the time and effort, and supported by a government that wants its people to succeed.

In implementing cuts to education as proposed in President Trump’s 2018 Executive Budget, the federal government would reverse course on a national philosophy that has fueled the economic primacy of the United States and the success of American business leaders and innovators for more than 200 years.

College graduates are as vital to ensuring our national economic health and securing the promise of a vibrant future as the quality, high-paying jobs higher education prepares them to fill.

If the president will not uphold America’s commitment to its students, colleges and universities, it falls upon Congress to reverse these untenable cuts, restore essential financial aid programs, and ensure college access for our nation’s youth.

Stephen J. Friedman is the president of Pace University in New York.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.