Administration’s FY20 proposed budget would hurt students, research

On March 18 the Trump Administration released its proposed FY20 budget, calling for sweeping cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. The proposal sets overall spending at $4.7 trillion, including $1.3 trillion in total discretionary funding, a 1.8 percent cut below FY19 levels.

The budget request proposes cuts to funding for research agencies and student aid programs, including the Pell Grant and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs.


National Science Foundation (NSF): The FY20 budget requests $7.1 billion for NSF, which is $974 million, or a 12 percent, decrease from FY19.

National Institutes of Health (NIH): The budget proposes funding for NIH at $34.4 billion, a decrease of $4.7 billion, or 12.1 percent over FY19 levels.

Institute of Education Science (IES): The request is for $521.6 million, or a cut of 15.2% over FY19 enacted levels.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): the budget provides $38 million for NEH, a, $117 million, or 75 percent, decrease from FY19. The budget proposes to begin shutting down the NEH in 2020 because the administration does not consider the activities within the agency to be “within its core Federal responsibilities.”

Student Aid:

The budget provides $22.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Pell Grant program in 2020, which combined with mandatory funding would support a maximum award of $5,195. The maximum award does not account for inflation. The budget proposes expanding the Pell Grant program to cover short-term programs that provide students with a “credential, certification, or license in an in-demand field.” The budget also proposes a cancellation of $2 billion unobligated carryover funds in the Pell program to be used for deficit reduction.

Federal Work Study (FWS) would be funded at $500 million, a decrease of $630 million or 55.75 percent from FY19; Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) would be eliminated.

Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman said in a statement, “For decades, federal investment in research and higher education have paid enormous dividends in medical advancement, new technologies, enhanced national security, and helped to produce good-paying jobs for American workers. We must not turn our backs on what has made the U.S. the greatest and most advanced economy in the world.”

 “The Administration’s budget request is an important political document that reflects its values and priorities,” said UO Associate Vice President for Federal Affairs Betsy Boyd. “But Congress does not use the president’s request as a legislative building block, as is the case with the Governor’s budget request to the Oregon State Legislature. Instead, Congress starts with the previous year’s funding to an agency and department. This means that we have reason to believe these cuts will be averted through advocacy.” 

Congress has already begun to form its FY2020 proposed budget with activity occurring in support of individual priorities and appropriations hearings occurring in the coming weeks.