Budget cuts under Trump administration may hurt UIS students and its programs
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Trump’s “America First” budget proposal cuts programs that are targeted toward providing support to low-income students and students of color. Minority students comprise more than a quarter of the UIS undergraduate population as of the 2014-2015 school year.
Cuts to the Pell grant, $3.9 billion to be exact, are the most concerning to university communities. The federally funded Pell grant provides financial assistance to low-income students and their families.
“The core concerns are about student financial support, direct student financial support, grants and loan opportunities for low-income students, both at the state and federal level,” said Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs Ryan Croke. “We have concerns about maintaining healthy appropriate support for students who need financial assistance to make it to their degree.”
Students throughout the University of Illinois system received nearly $74 million in Pell grants during the last academic year, with UIS students receiving $4.6 million of that.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 1,149 undergraduate students at UIS received some Pell grant assistance, nearly 40 percent of the student body.
Trump’s proposed budget also eliminates the SEOG, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and reduces the allocation for the federal work study program. According to Department of Education data, 81 percent of the SEOG goes to students whose families make less than $30,000.
The federal budget cuts come at a difficult time for Illinois students and universities.
Due to the state’s ongoing budget crisis, institutions across the state are in already dire financial straits, with many being forced to lay off faculty and staff, leave countless positions unfilled, and make multi-million dollar budget cuts.
During the recent Spring Campus Forum, Associate Provost of Budget and Administration Planning Jerry Joseph elaborated on the cost-saving measures that UIS has implemented, and the measures the school would need to take if the state budget standoff were to continue.
Joseph explained that the university has frozen staff and faculty positions, reduced extra-help support and travel expenses, deferred maintenance, and made programmatic service cuts.
Illinois students are not only facing potential cuts to federal financial aid funding, but the impact of the lack of funding for MAP grants due to the state budget crisis as well.
“We have about 700-800 students that rely on MAP grant funds at the state level, many of whom are also eligible for the federal Pell grant,” said Croke.
Cuts to financial aid programs are not the only issue affecting UIS students.
“There are concerns in other campus areas, ranging from the public radio stations that are supported here that strengthen the community through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
(CPB),” explained Croke. “Also, the national science foundation which supports a variety of research activity.”
The campus radio station receives 12 percent of its $2 million budget from the CPB, an agency that the Trump administration seeks to cease funding for.
Cuts to the Justice Department may have an adverse effect on funding for the Illinois Innocence Project, which runs out of the UIS campus. The National Science Foundation cuts may also negatively impact the Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon at UIS.
Croke went on to explain that UIS is dedicated to protecting funding for programs that help students. “The core priority is to protect programs that directly impact the lives of students,” said Croke.
To stand by this promise, the U of I system has recently named Paul Weinberger as the director of federal relations. Weinberger is a veteran congressional staffer with several decades spent on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies. His duties will be to advocate for research funding and legislation in order to support and protect students and academic programs throughout the U of I system.