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President Proposes Investments in Postsecondary Aid and Innovation

Feb 04, 2010

By Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield

While the President's FY 2011 budget calls for an overall freeze on discretionary non-defense spending, the budget would substantially increase support for students in postsecondary education.

Most notably, the budget proposes to raise the maximum Pell grant from $5,550 in 2010 to $5,710 in 2011 and move it to the mandatory side of the budget.  Spending on the Pell Grant program would rise from $26.9 billion to $34.9 billion. Under the President's proposal, the maximum Pell grant would increase each year by the rate of inflation plus 1%, reaching an estimated $6,900 in 2019. This is the second year in which the President has proposed transforming Pell into a mandatory program to shield it from the uncertainties of the discretionary budgeting process. In addition, the budget request would ease the terms of loan repayment for low-income individuals in the Income-Based Repayment program.

The budget is consistent with the proposed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. The President's budget proposal allocates $10.6 billion over ten years for SAFRA's American Graduation Initiative, which would fund competitive grants for innovation at community colleges. The proposal also allocates $3.5 billion over five years for the College Access and Completion Fund, which aims to increase the graduation rates of low-income students.

Not all programs are to receive increases, however. The budget would provide flat funding for TRIO, Gear Up, Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and would eliminate the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships (LEAP) Grants program

CLASP supports SAFRA, and has worked with House and Senate leaders to strengthen the bill's effectiveness. See CLASP's letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller.


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