The Obama administration released its Fiscal Year 2015 budget request March 3. Spending levels were already set by Congress as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus appropriations package and efforts to address sequestration, creating a difficult budget environment. While the budget would keep student aid and research funding about level for most agencies, the 2015 plan also includes several ambitious new higher education proposals predicated on a combination of cuts and revenue measures that stand little chance of adoption.
The Association of American Universities (AAU) commented favorably on the budget's approach to access to higher education while expressing disappointment about its lack of investment in research and innovation. On student aid, the President's budget proposal recommends an increase to Pell grant awards by $100 to $5,830 and creates performance incentives for states and institutions to graduate greater numbers of lower income students.
However, the budget proposal represents a net decline in research funding. The budget slightly increases funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, but includes reductions for high energy physics and science laboratory infrastructure. The budget also includes a 1.2 percent increase for the National Science Foundation. It includes major cuts to research funding at the Department of Defense. Of special interest to UO, the Institute of Education Sciences, a key funder of UO competitive research, includes a $60 million increase to a budget of $637.2 million. Many details of the budget will not be released until Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
In addition to the FY2015 top-line budget of $3.9 trillion which complies with the cap included in the bipartisan budget agreement achieved in December, the President’s proposal includes a supplementary proposal: the Opportunity, Growth and Security (OGS) Initiative that can only be achieved if proposed changes to the budget are made. $5.3 billion of the OGS Initiative would support research and development.