Each year, the President of the United States presents a budget proposal to Congress to fulfill promises made during his campaign and to create the change that they think is best. When President Biden ran for office, one of his core issues was making college more affordable.
Since he took office, he has tried to make his plans a reality. His budget proposal for Congress this year includes sweeping changes to alleviate college costs for students and their families.
President’s Budget 2024
In the last 20 years, tuition and fees have increased by 134%, according to U.S. News and World Report
. Naturally, families are struggling to keep up with rising costs, and the President and his team have worked hard to enact policies that will change how students are paying for school.
The proposed budget for 2024 furthers his mission in two ways:
Another Pell Grant Increase
For the past three years, President Biden has requested an increase to the Pell Grant maximum
. He is doing so again for next year’s budget, suggesting $500 be added. That would bring the maximum Pell Grant amount to $8,215, reports Inside Higher Ed
Steps Toward Free Community College
President Biden has long been campaigning for free community colleges, the first steps dating back to his vice presidency with Barack Obama. No doubt, Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady and former community college educator
, directs her husband on this issue as well.
His proposed 2024 budget includes a $500 million investment of grant money to provide two years of free community college education to students enrolled in high-performing programs that enable them to transfer to a four-year college or successfully find a full-time job after graduation
. This measure also includes two years of a tuition subsidy worth $4,500 for students whose families make less than $125,000 a year and are enrolled in a Historically Black College or University (HBCU)
, Tribal College and University (TCCU), or a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI).
Other Higher Education Proposals to the Budget
While an increase to the Pell Grant and free community college will impact the most students, there are also a few other measures the President hopes will pass, states Inside Higher Ed
• $335 million investment in workforce training programs
, such as apprenticeships in construction and clean energy.
• $100 million to help community colleges partner with employers to develop training models.
• $200 million to connect high school students with community colleges and potential employers for dual-enrollment and workforce development programs
• $2 billion increase to the National Science Foundation
• $920 million increase to the National Institutes of Health
Biden’s Long-Term Vision for Higher Education
The above are steps that President Biden is hoping to take toward his long-term vision for changes to higher education in America, a vision that extends beyond his own presidency.
Under his watch, the Pell Grant maximum has increased by $900, but President Biden wants it to increase even more in the coming years. His ideal Pell Grant amount would be doubled by the year 2029.
His plans for building up community college over the course of the next ten years is extensive. According to MarketWatch
, his administration is asking for $90 billion over the next 10 years in order to create a state-federal partnership that would result in free community college.
President Biden’s Higher Education Record
Despite winning the election during the pandemic and keeping that the focus of his first year, President Biden and his administration have been able to pass multiple policy changes for higher education:
• Distributed $15 billion in federal student loan forgiveness to students who had been impacted by institutional fraud, school closures, and total or partial disability.
• Overhauled the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program
to allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that may not otherwise qualify. Previously, only 16,000 borrowers had ever qualified. However, with the new ruling, 70,000 individuals were able to claim loan forgiveness.
• Enacted student loan forgiveness, up to $10,000, for borrowers
making less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients (this particular student loan forgiveness policy hangs in limbo as multiple states have filed lawsuits against the Biden Administration over loan forgiveness).