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2016 U.S. Budget expands Higher Education opportunities

On 2 February, the Obama Administration released the budget request for fiscal year 2016, with USD 70.7 billion (EUR 62.27 billion) for the Education Department - a 5.4% increase over the previous year’s funding. Many of the new provisions are aimed at improving access, affordability and quality in American education, and they have been in large part already announced in the 2015 State of the Union address earlier in January (see ACA Newsletter “Education Europe”, Edition January 2015). Concerning specifically higher education, the budget includes the following partition:

  • USD 1.36 billion (EUR 1.2 billion) in 2016 for America’s College Promise, a 10 years investment plan of globally USD 60.3 billion (EUR 53.11 billion) that would provide for responsible students two years of free community college;
  • USD 29.7 billion (EUR 26.16 billion) investment in Pell Grants that would maintain the purchasing power of this critical, need-based postsecondary grant assistance after 2017;
  • USD 860 million (EUR 757.5 million) for the Federal TRIO programs, to maintain funding for projects designed to help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities successfully attain higher education.
  • USD 200 million (EUR 176 million), a 70% increase, for the competitive First in the World grants that take the same approach to improving outcomes in higher education.

Among the objectives of the significant investments of the 2016 budget presented by Obama administration there is to speed up the United States’ progress in catching up with other countries for the primate of having the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world.