Student loans eyed by budgeteers

Obama’s deficit commission called for eliminating the current in-school interest subsidy, citing a recent report by the College Board that said, “There is no evidence that eliminating in-school interest is critical” to the decision a student makes about enrolling in school.

Republicans have called for $27.7 billion in farm program savings through the end of the decade, as compared with about $5 billion in Obama’s budget last February.

Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert who runs popular financial aid websites and, said the savings targeted by Obama and Congressional Republicans would be better used to increase Pell Grant funding.

“Unfortunately, efficiency improvements in student aid funding have repeatedly been used for deficit reduction,” Kantrowitz said. “In the current proposal, the government will be cutting student aid funding without using the savings to improve other more effective aid programs like need-based grants.”

“Need-based grants,” including Pell Grants, aren’t adequately funded, he added.

“The plan will likely gain traction in [Washington] because it saves money and there’s a big push to save money wherever possible,” Kantrowitz said.

Both sides have called for savings from the crop insurance program and direct payment to farmers. Details are sketchy, because the House Republicans omitted many from their budget and the White House has not released several of the specific recommendations that comprise a 12-year deficit-cutting plan Obama unveiled last month.

As did Obama, the presidential deficit reduction commission and Bipartisan Policy Center recommended cutting payments to the largest farms.

The House budget written by Republicans recommends raising pension contributions by workers and cutting them for the government.

Obama made no such recommendation in his budget last February. Despite opposition from unions representing federal employees, several congressional officials say the White House has made clear it will back some savings in the area.

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