Proposal could affect colleges

Roxanne Ready, Reporter

President Donald Trump’s plan to cut funding to federal agencies such as the Department of Education could be “problematic” for community colleges.

AACC Vice President Melissa Beardmore said that although Trump’s proposed budget outline is lacking the speci cs for a full analysis, many students rely on U.S. grants or work study pro- grams to pay tuition, and the funding for those comes from federal departments.

In a proposed budget outline for 2018, Trump sug- gested he would cut funding to the Department of Educa- tion by more than $9 billion, its lowest level in 17 years.

Additionally, the pro- posal would cut funding from other departments and pro- grams that help disadvan- taged students or give grants to community colleges.

But nearly 44 percent of community college students use some kind of federal aid, according to a 2014 document from the American Association of Community Colleges.

“I know it affects me, personally, because I’m about to transfer to a four- year university,” said Riley Williams, a political science major in his last semester at AACC. “I’m kind of relying on [federal aid] to make up for what myself and my family cannot [afford].”

The new budget will eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which gives money to stu- dents with the most nancial need.

The proposal would continue funding the federal Pell Grant, which gives funding to students without bachelor’s degrees.

But it would take away extra money that advocates were hoping to redirect back into the program for improvements—like summer grants, which would not be available.

The Department of Labor is also facing cuts of 21 percent, bringing it to its lowest level in decades.

In 2011, AACC benefited from a Department of Labor grant that eventually resulted in the formation of its mechatronics program. Community colleges of- ten partner with the DOL to keep the national workforce trained, said Dr. Martha Parham, the senior vice pres- ident of public relations at the American Association of Community Colleges. Parham said she worries community college stu- dents will be especially affected by cuts to federal aid programs because two-year schools serve many minority and underrepresented student groups.

Dr. Dan Nataf, an AACC political science professor and the director of the Center for the Study of Local Issues, said reducing the budget for education may have long-term, unintended consequences.