Published on 2012/02/17

Budget Zeroes In On College Affordability

Fawn Johnson reported in Government Executive last week that the new budget proposed by President Obama puts the focus on college affordability and higher education accessibility.

The proposal increases the Education Department’s funding by 2.4 percent, a total of $1.7 billion. This includes an $85 increase to the maximum Pell Grant amounts in 2014-2015 and freezing Pell Grant interest rates at 3.4 percent.

Further, on Monday, Obama announced the Community College to Career Fund, which would provide a large capital injection of $8 billion over three years to increase the linkages between community colleges and local businesses in high-demand industries.

Justin Draeger, the President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, told Inside Higher Ed that Obama’s focus on accessibility was reputable, but creating strings of red tape.

“The president continues to put forth budgets that seek to expand the student aid programs, to keep costs down and to increase transparency in what is becoming an even more complicated budget and student funding process,” he said.

For-profit colleges found themselves left out in the cold after a caveat to the Community College to Career Fund made it clear that proprietary education providers would not be receiving any of the $8 billion earmarked for community college growth. Penny Lee, the Managing Director of the Coalition for Educational Success—a group of for-profit colleges—told Inside Higher Ed that leaving certain institutions on the street would not solve the country’s overarching problems.

“We firmly believe that no stone should be left unturned in the search to find solutions to meet the needs of the job market,” she said.

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