Proposed 2013 Budget Increases Higher Ed Spending

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President Obama revealed his proposal for the 2013 national budget at a community college in Virginia Monday.

Now, students and faculty at local universities are wondering how it will affect them.

Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion budget that included a call for increases in spending in the Department of Education by 2.5 percent.

This would mean a boost in spending from the current budget’s $68.1 billion per year to $69.8 billion.

This ramp-up on higher education spending is good news for college students.

Funding for Pell Grants would stay the same at $22.8 billion, but the proposed plan increases the maximum award.

Right now, the maximum award is $5,550 per student.

Obama’s budget would raise that amount to $5,635 per student.

Currently, Pell Grants help about ten million college students pay their tuition bills each year.

Ohio University junior and Pell Grant recipient Tana McIlveen says whether her grant amount increases or decreases, receiving a grant for tuition is important.

“Any money you get for school is important, especially when they’re grants because you don’t have to pay them back,” McIlveen said.

Additionally, the proposed budget calls for billions of dollars to go toward career training programs in community colleges and provide aid for schools that assist students in securing internships and jobs in their career field.

Hocking College President Ron Erickson thinks Hocking would be eligible for some of the programs outlined in Obama’s budget.

“From what I’ve learned thus far, it certainly sounds like Hocking College would be eligible for that type of funding. We would be required to partner with local industries and businesses to establish the kind of training programs [they’re] talking about,” Erickson said.

For the first time, Obama plans to create a $1 billion “Race to the Top” fund for colleges and a $55 million “First in the World” fund for colleges that push for “productivity” and “efficiency”.

The budget called for an increase in federally funded research at universities and the implementation of new policies that would increase the amount of money available for grants by seven percent.

Student Senate Treasurer Chris Wimsatt says he does not think tuition will decrease due to increases in spending by the Department of Education.

“You can give all the money you want but it’s not going to keep tuition down because these expenses are there whether the money’s coming in or not,” Wimsatt said.

Wimsatt believes the proposed increase in funding is a political move and says that it is obvious who Obama is targeting with his education budget plans.

“I don’t want to completely discount the good that I think the President is trying to accomplish, and I do think he has good intentions, but targeting one of your most significant, prolific voting blocs with your budget in an election year is pretty transparent to me,” Wimsatt said.

As a whole, Obama’s budget calls for raising taxes for the wealthy and for big banks, while Republicans are pushing to cut taxes for the rich and cut almost all spending.

Most members of Congress say they don’t see this budget passing as is.

Even with tax increases, the national budget would still have a $901 billion deficit in 2013.