WASHINGTON - Budget cuts proposed for the federal Education and State departments would affect students and researchers worldwide.
President Donald Trump's 2018 budget plan, which requires approval from Congress and therefore is subject to change, would cut $9 billion from Department of Education spending, or 13.5 percent. The State Department budget would be pared by $15 billion, or 28 percent.
The Education Department would face cuts in programs that prepare low-income and disabled students for college, teacher training programs, community learning centers that provide enrichment and tutoring programs, and a grant program that helps needy American university students.
In a recent letter to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, said that the UNCF was grateful for Trump's "personal involvement" in supporting historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), but that details of the budget raised concerns that the president's commitment to do more for these schools might go unfulfilled.
Tens of thousands of recipients
Lomax said 55,000 HBCU students would be affected by elimination of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and reductions to work-study programs and other federal spending could affect another 26,000 students at these schools and also reduce their chances for future employment.
HBCU schools typically have lower costs, but their students tend to accrue more loan debt than students at other institutions, the United Negro College Fund says. HBCUs enroll nearly 300,000 young women and men — primarily first-generation, low-income minority students — and typically confer about 18 percent of all baccalaureate degrees received by African-American students, even though the HBCU sector constitutes only 3 percent of the country's institutions of higher education.
Other Education Department programs slated for elimination are the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Community and Public Service. The latter runs national volunteer programs, including Americorps, which places young people in service positions at nonprofits, schools, public agencies and community groups nationwide.
Cuts at the State Department would target educational, cultural and professional exchange programs. However, the department has been told to "sustain" the Fulbright Scholar Program, a renowned U.S. effort that has provided grants for decades for Americans to study abroad and for foreign nationals to attend U.S. universities.
'Vital' to scholars
Serap Deniz Rada, director of the Hubert H. Humphrey (Fulbright) Fellowship at the University of Maryland, said she benefited greatly from her time spent as a Fulbright Dissertation Research Fellow in Turkey in 1998-99.
"These programs are vital to American scholars, students and teachers for their work abroad," Rada said.
Dan Davidson, president of the American Councils for International Education, agreed, saying international exchange programs serve "America's national security and diplomatic needs while benefiting educational and economic development in all parts of the nation."
Davidson added: "And they do so at a small fraction of the cost of comparable expenditures in defense and other sectors. They have never been more important for Americans than in today's complex, globalized economy."
The American Councils for International Education administers many State Department exchange programs, including Critical Language Scholarships, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth and the Youth Exchange and Study Abroad program (YES). They send American students abroad to learn languages deemed critical for diplomacy and international relations.
The proposed State Department budget also would drop funding for the U.S. Institute of Peace, a think tank that works for conflict resolution, and for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a prominent forum on global issues in Washington.