Students Discouraged as 2006 Fiscal Budget Report Projects Cuts in Federal Education Funding

As President Bush plans to make cuts in education funding under the 2006 Fiscal Budgets, many college students are becoming skeptical about their eligibility for governmental funding such as Pell grants, work study and other aid for the next school year.

Based on the 2006 Fiscal Budget report released by the Office of Management and Budget of the executive branch of the U.S. government, the funding for the department of Education will decrease by one percent from 2005.

These changes will go into effect on October 1, 2005 and are expected to strip current recipients of education funding for next year.

In a document released by the Center for American Progress, modifications in the 2006 Fiscal budget will only entitle about 36,000 students to Pell Grants. This is less that one percent of the 5.5 million current recipients of Pell Grant, the document noted.

Although President Bush acknowledges that "college costs are rising significantly," and says, "aid increasing is important to ensure that students have an opportunity to go to college," his actions appear to be contradictory.

While Bush claims that he feels education is important, other issues seem to take precedence over education.

There are several departments that can expect increases in funding during the 2006 fiscal year including department of homeland security (seven percent), defense (five percent), commerce (+49 percent), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (four percent) from 2005.

On the other hand, additional departments can expect decreases in funding like the department of Labor (-four percent), Housing and Urban Development (-11 percent), and Health and Human Services (-one percent).

Autrellia Parks, a senior international business major at Howard University in Washington, D.C. feels that President Bush "should consider issues regarding education as a top priority because education ultimately affects the outcome of our nation."

Parks say that she has personally experienced a decrease in financial aid that she receives through governmental funding since the current administration has been in office.

"In recent years I have not received as much funding as I use to. However, my parents’ or my income has not changed."

Similar to Parks, other students are noticing that their financial aid award is decreasing despite the fact that circumstances remain the same.

This in part, has to do with the declining economy and present conditions of the job market because of the economic recession.

In recent years, many people have been laid off from their job creating a greater population of individuals seeking federal aid and assistance for school and other things.

Based on current statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for January 2005 stands at 5.2 percent.

Nicole Camp, a senior sociology major at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia feels this is going to be a problem for a lot of students, especially those who plan to attend graduate or professional schools.

"While some parents set aside money for their children to attend college at the undergraduate level, many parents don’t take into consideration that their kids may have aspirations to go beyond that."

Camp says reduction in educational funding will place more responsibility on students, especially those students that plan to go to graduate school.

"Many parents are already struggling to pay for their children to go to school. It will become that more difficult with educational setbacks. I also think this will make it even more challenging for students who have to pay for school solely by themselves."

In addition to modification in Pell Grant funding, students can expect to see changes in or elimination of programs such as the federal

Perkins Loan program, the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant program, the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership Grant program and others.

For more information on the 2006 Fiscal Budget report or to see how changes in the Fiscal Budget will affect you during the next school year, go to www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/.