FY 2016 budget targets higher-ed opportunity

Proposed budget focuses on improving postsecondary access, completion rates

budget-requestMore students would have access to higher education under President Obama’s FY 2016 budget request, which he sent to Congress on Feb. 2, 2015.

The budget includes four focus areas for education, including increasing equity and opportunity for all students; expanding high-quality early learning programs; supporting teachers and school leaders; and improving access, affordability and student outcomes in postsecondary education.

The proposed budget fully funds Pell Grants and ties the maximum away to inflation beyond 2017, to ensure that Pell Grants maintain their value for students and families.

America’s College Promise, Obama’s much-discussed free community college plan, would receive $60.3 billion over 10 years for a total of $1.36 billion.

The partnership with states asks states to invest more in public higher education and training, asks community colleges to strengthen their programs and improve student outcomes, and asks students to attend at least half-time, earn good grades, and stay on the path to graduation.

Next page: Budget priorities for postsecondary programs

The budget provides $200 million for the First in the World program, a $140 million increase from 2015. These competitive awards aim to improve postsecondary completion rates through innovative, promising, and evidence-based strategies. The administration plans to set aside up to 30 percent of the funds available for a competition to support the implementation of projects at Minority Serving Institutions.

Career and Technical Education, which has seen renewed interest in recent years as more students are increasingly opting to enroll in programs to learn specialized skills, would receive $200 million.

The Federal TRIO programs would receive $860 million–a $20 million increase–to enable the Department of Education to maintain funding for approximately 2,800 TRIO projects that serve middle school, high school, and college students and adults. TRIO includes programs designed to help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities successfully attain higher education.

The budget also will support a new TRIO initiative designed to give existing grantees the opportunity to compete for increased funding to implement, evaluate, and scale additional, evidence-based college access and success strategies.

The budget also aims to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione