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View from the Hill

Breaking Down Paul Ryan's Higher Ed Proposals

Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, chairman of the House Budget Committee, released his latest proposed budget.

Entitled "the Path to Prosperity," the budget proposes numerous changes to social safety net programs, but also has many policy prescriptions for education programs. Below is a breakdown of some of them:

  • Reforming job training programs: Ryan's budget places high emphasis on job training in education. Ryan's budget recommends consolidation of many job-training programs. The plan would be similar to the House-passed SKILLS Act, which would eliminate or streamline 35 programs, create a workforce investment fund to support workers and give state governments flexibility to consolidate other programs. The budget also proposes replacing some programs with career-scholarship programs and tracking the type of training needed, the cost of training, and employment prospects.
  • Reigning in Pell Grants: Ryan's proposal claims spending on Pell Grants has gone from $16.1 billion to $26.9 billion in the past six years. The Path to Prosperity calls for rolling back the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which allowed for certain low-income students to qualify for "automatic zero" for their Expected Family Contribution. In addition, the budget would repeal expansions made in the 2010 Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which increased the Pell Grant maximum. Other changes would include considering a maximum income cap on Pell Grants, eliminating eligibility for less-than-half-time students, increasing the amount of time a student must attend class before withdrawing without debt owed for back assistance, and keeping the maximum-award level of $5,730 for each budget window.
  • Promoting innovation: The budget lists off a series of different forms of innovation, including allowing for flexibility for non-traditional models like online coursework, reexamining data made available to students and allow for students to know their institutional options.
  • Eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service: The Corporation for National Community Service works to promote service projects across the country. In addition, it provides some financial aid services, such as allowing AmeriCorps participants to use education awards to pay qualified student loans. Ryan's proposal said programs already exist for low-income students and that programs operate on the state and local level.
  • Eliminate administrative fees for campus-based student aid: In 2010-2011, 1700 institutions received more than $14 million in administrative cost money. The Path to Prosperity said colleges already benefit from participating in student-aid programs.
  • Elimination of in-school interest subsidies: Ryan adopts a proposal from the 2010 Fiscal Responsibility Commission, whose co-chairman was former UNC-system president Erskine Bowles. Certain loans do not accumulate interest while students are in school. The proposal Fiscal Commission said a more important measure than measuring income when a student enrolls in college is how much students will owe after completion.

Ryan's budget was approved by the house budget committee and will likely pass the House, but previous versions of his budget have been stalled in the Senate.

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