Trump budget hits college students hard

Illustration by Kathleen Hetherington

Illustration by Kathleen Hetherington

President Donald Trump has proposed a new budget for 2020 where he plans to spend $4.89 trillion. The plan, however, is not benevolent towards the college students and the insurmountable debt they tend to carry during their lifetime.

Despite the presidential election approaching, and a few rival presidential candidates advocating for the need to make college education free and championing debt forgiveness, Trump has paid no heed to such necessities. His budget will slash billions of dollars from student loans without any signs of new initiatives to ameliorate the student debt crisis that alone accounts for more than a trillion dollars.

First of all, this budget plans to eliminate the widely popular initiative known as the loan forgiveness program. Students who joined public service jobs could remain debt-free if they made on-time payment for ten years while in service. If this budget is passed, a lot of students who aspire to become teachers, firefighters or any other public servant would no longer remain under such protection. 

Although this plan would not impact the people who currently hold a public service job who have high debt, this would exacerbate the financial woes of the upcoming generation and will dissuade them from holding a public service job.

Alongside undergraduates, this budget has a huge impact on the students in graduate school who are borrowing even more. This plan introduces caps on borrowing where students cannot borrow more than a certain amount. Undergraduates can annually borrow $26,500, whereas the graduate students can only borrow $50,000 annually and $100,000 during their lifetime. 

Graduate students who study highly sophisticated fields of science such as medicine with sky-high tuition fees are disadvantaged by this program. The Trump administration boasts about the efficacy of these caps in borrowing by limiting the amount of debt incurred by a student against their capability of repayment. The administration, however, fails to recognize the benefits of investing money to produce highly educated citizens in the long run. 

Similarly, this budget puts forward educational policies that are malevolent to students from low-income families and first-generation college students. More than half of the budget for federal work-study programs will be cut if this budget is passed. This program provided low-income students with part-time employment and allowed them to earn money to pay for their education. Trump’s budget will slash supplemental educational opportunity grants that helped parents with yearly incomes less than $30,000 to support their children’s financial needs. 

On the other hand, there is the Pell Grant, a similar supplemental grant which provides a somewhat higher financial need for lower-income students and was inherited from the Obama administration. 

Amidst all these plans to continue Pell Grants, these grants are being debilitated by the new policies that the budget encompasses. Similar to the policy of the past three years, this award is not indexed to inflation and will stay the same amount no matter how much the tuition fee increases. As a result, this award will only cover a smaller amount of financial need for students in the upcoming years.    

Currently, with the possibility of recession surfacing, more people will be likely to attend university in these financial fiascos. With such feeble plans and policies, though, we can only imagine more students getting stuck.
There is still a beacon of hope left since a majority of congressmen are not content with Trump’s budget. It would be a terrible mistake if the budget is passed, sending the student debt crisis into a tailspin.