President Obama released his FY 2014 budget request yesterday with several new proposals to augment already-proposed investments in education and workforce training, job creation, and infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) would receive $71.2 billion in discretionary funding, a 4.6% or $3.1 billion increase over the FY 2012 enacted level. This funding would support K-12 reform as well as new initiatives designed to help reach the president’s 2020 college completion goal.
The FY 2014 budget calls for an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund that builds on the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant program to infuse more resources into job training programs at community colleges. Beginning in 2015, the budget would provide $8 billion ($4 billion each in the Departments of Labor and Education) over 3 years to support and evaluate community college-based training programs that build the skills of American workers, with a particular emphasis on initiatives with strong state and community college partnerships with businesses. The fund, first proposed in last year’s administration budget, would succeed and expand upon the TAACCCT Grant program.
The president’s budget also includes a $300 million high school redesign program that would provide competitive grants to districts partnering with employers and postsecondary institutions. Grantees would redesign high schools in innovative ways to prepare students for college and career success. Graduates from these newly designed high schools would be expected to finish high school with college credits and work-related competencies.
The budget also includes previously-released proposals for a new $1 billion Race to the Top for higher education institutions and changes to the Campus-Based Aid programs (Federal Work-Study, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Perkins Loans) to reward institutions that keep their tuitions down and meet other national goals. It also includes a $260 million First in the World Fund that would help postsecondary institutions develop and expand innovative and effective strategies for improving college completion.
Another new proposal would provide $42 million for a demonstration program for dual enrollment focusing on the creation or expansion of programs that offered high school and adult students with opportunities to earn college credits while enrolled in high school or GED programs. The administration is also proposing $415 million for STEM innovation networks. Funds would support competitive grants to consortia of local education agencies in partnership with institutions of higher education, businesses, science agencies, or other entities. These public–private partnerships would harness local, regional, and national resources to transform STEM teaching and learning by implementing innovative evidence-based practices that improve teacher recruitment, preparation, and professional development and student engagement. These investments will require congressional approval, which will be challenging to obtain in the current budget climate. Many of the proposals also would require new laws (authorizations) to be enacted in advance of this funding.
Federal Student Aid
Funding for the federal student aid programs would be largely maintained at the FY 2012 levels since the administration is proposing to reverse the FY 2013 sequester cuts. The president also proposes to fund the Pell Grant program at a sufficient level to increase the maximum award to $5,785 in award year 2014–15, an increase set in motion by the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2010. The increase would be achieved by simply maintaining the same appropriated maximum Pell Grants as last year.
Other key education programs, such as TRIO, GEAR UP, Strengthening Institutions, and programs for minority-serving institutions, would be level funded at the FY 2012 levels. The budget also includes the administration’s proposal to reshape the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
ED has yet to release the final post-sequester figures for FY 2013. However, those figures are expected to be essentially at the FY 2012 levels less 5.23%, except for Pell Grants, which are exempt from the sequester in FY 2013.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has requested slight increases in the adult, dislocated worker, and youth Workforce Investment Act (WIA) formula funding streams, primarily to account for a requested increase in the state set-aside from 5% to 7.5%. DOL also has requested a $100-million increase, to $150 million, for the Workforce Innovation Fund. The administration has again proposed consolidating the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers and the WIA Dislocated Workers programs into a Universal Dislocated Worker program.
National Science Foundation
The administration has proposed an 8.4% increase for the NSF, to a total of $7.63 billion (pre-sequester). Funding for the Education and Human Resources Directorate would increase by 6.2%, to $880 million. The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program would be level funded at $64 million. However, this budget was written before the passage of final FY 2013 funding legislation that directed NSF to provide an additional $5 million to ATE, resulting in a mismatch between the current funding level and the administration’s budget request. The budget proposes combining several undergraduate STEM programs, including the STEM Talent Expansion Program, into one larger program called Catalyzing Advances in Undergraduate STEM Education (CAUSE).