Proposed Federal Budget Will Increase Financial Aid Funding by $300 Million for 2011
Analysis: Proposed 2011 Federal BudgetUniversity News Editor, Zach E.J. Williams, talks with Christian Macavei regarding President Obama's proposed 2011 federal budget. Macevei summarizes what the budget includes and the effects it may produce.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Category: News > University > Higher Education
President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011 will increase funding for financial aid programs compared to this year.
According to the proposed budget, the Student Aid Administration-a federal agency that provides financial aid for higher education-will be allotted an additional $300 million in 2011 from an estimated $870 million in fiscal year 2010. Total mandatory outlays, which include funding for the Federal Pell Grant Program, would increase from an estimated $9.28 billion this year to an estimated $24.7 billion in fiscal year 2011.
UC Spokesperson Chris Harrington said the university is pleased that the reform introduced by Obama's proposed budget will increase the amount of Pell Grant awards students will be able to receive.
"It takes the Pell Grants and (puts them) on the mandatory side of the budget, and that brings added stability to the program," he said.
Although it is too early to say what the exact effect of the reform will be on UC, early estimates show that the increased funding for the Pell Grant program may help more than one million students nationwide and about 45,000 students in California, Harrington said.
He said that the increased funding for higher education might help with California's funding shortfalls.
"We have been reviewing the budget, and we are pleased with the number of things that we've seen," he said. "For example, there's good news for students, including increased funding for the Cal Grant funding."
Obama's proposed budget awarded $1.5 billion of $6.9 billion in federal funding requested by California. The Cal Grant program could face deep cuts if additional funding is not secured by July 15, H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the California Office of Finance, said Jan. 26.
Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 2010-11 state budget, the competitive Cal Grant program would not fund the fall 2010 entering freshman class.
"The 1.5 billion dollars is a down payment on what California is owed," Palmer said Tuesday. He said Gov. Schwarzenegger "will continue California's efforts to secure the federal funding."
If the $6.9 billion is not obtained in time, Cal Grants would no longer cover future fee increases, including a 15 percent UC student fee increase that will take effect in fall 2010, according to the California Student Aid Commission, which oversees the grants.
Palmer said Schwarzenegger understands what is at stake and is committed to securing the requested federal funds over the next few months.
"$1.5 billion is contained in the President's budget proposal, so the governor wants to build on that," Palmer added.
The $1.5 billion allocation was allotted to California from stimulus funds, Palmer said. The rest of the funds requested by California would likely come from increased reimbursement by the federal government for housing of undocumented immigrants, increased funding for Medicaid and other funding sources.
Palmer said that the funding will have to come from a congressional appropriation and that California will be working with other states to secure its funding.
Obama's proposed budget also secures additional funding for scientific research.
Harrington said that the university competes very well on the national research level. The increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy and other research entities, which allot money to researchers, will be very good for researchers and faculty, he said.
The university is a strong advocate of funding at the federal level and will continue to seek additional funding as Obama's proposed budget evolves in the coming months, according to Harrington.
"We still have to go through a number of legislative ... processes," Harrington said. "The University of California is going to continue to advocate for strong funding, for California ... for faculty, for students as we move forward in this budget process."
Contact Cristian Macavei at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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