President Obama released his proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget Wednesday morning. The budget proposal includes new investments in education, infrastructure, and research, along with the President’s proposals to alter Social Security, Medicare, and tax policy. This budget proposal comes two months later than usual, largely a result of sequestration and an incomplete fiscal year 2013 budget.
The United States House and Senate have already passed their respective FY2014 budgets, although they contain significant differences. The President’s budget will inform and spark debate on a number of included proposals, many of which will be debated long beyond the appropriations process.
The following items in the President’s budget proposal relate to higher education. Several of these items may be unique opportunities for the University of Tennessee if enacted.
- A 9% increase from 2012 levels for non-defense research and development (R&D)
- Investments in clean energy R&D, promoting the safe production of natural gas, and creating an Energy Security Trust to fund research efforts that would help shift cars and trucks off oil (a $2 billion investment over three years)
- Investments in infrastructure development (including power grids that are resilient to extreme conditions)
- Funding increases for the Department of Agriculture competitive peer-reviewed research grants to support research in human nutrition and obesity reduction, food safety, bioenergy, and climate change
- A $1 billion Race to the Top fund to support competitive grants to states that commit to driving reform in their higher education policies and practices, while doing more to contain tuition. This funding would support up to ten states who commit to sustain fiscal support for higher education while modernizing policies to constrain costs and improve outcomes, remove barriers preventing the creation of innovative student learning methods and new degree pathways, empower consumer choice through increased transparency, and smooth transitions into college and between institutions of higher education
- $260 million for a First in the World fund. Up to $175 million of the proposed fund would support an evidence-based grant competition encouraging innovative approaches to college completion, supporting research to build evidence for successful strategies, and disseminating proven strategies. A priority would be included for projects designed to improve access and success of high-need secondary students
- Investment in the recruiting and preparation of 100,000 STEM teachers and the creation of a new STEM Master Teachers Corps
- Reforms to campus-based aid programs (such as Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study, and Perkins Loan programs) to reward colleges that set responsible tuition policy, deliver good value and quality to students, and serve low-income and Pell eligible students well. These criteria are not defined further in the proposal with the exception of the Federal Work Study program. Relative to this program, “quality” would be evaluated in part by providing “meaningful work to students.” The proposal also calls for an additional $150 million for the Federal Work Study program with the intent to double recipients in a five year time frame
- Sufficient funding to support the Pell Grant Program without any eligibility changes. The funding request for FY14 would increase the maximum Pell award to $5,785 in academic year 2014-2015. This is an increase from the current academic year award of $5,550, as well as the 2013-2014 academic year award of $5,645
- Cost-neutral student loan reform that prevents interest rates on federal student loans from doubling on July 1 of this year, as scheduled. Future rates on new loans would be set each year based on a market interest rate, which would remain fixed for the life of the loan so that student borrowers would have certainty about the rates they would pay
For more information, please see the overview document below from the Office of Management and Budget.
The President’s budget proposal can be accessed by clicking here.