Before and During College: How The President’s Budget Proposals Would Affect Your Grants, Scholarships, and Work-Study

President Trump recently released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget proposals for federal student financial aid. Last Wednesday, we assessed their possible impact on federal student loans. Today, we focus on how they’d affect grants and work-study jobs for financially needy students.

Pell Grant: The administration promises to keep the Pell Grant program fully funded and financially stable, while raising the maximum Pell award from $6,195 to $6,345. But it wants to cut Pell’s appropriation by $134 million while awarding 252,000 more grants. It would extend Pell funds to 3 new groups: those in what it calls “high-quality” short-term training programs leading to certificates and licenses, convicts taking courses during their last 5 years in prison, and Iraq-Afghanistan Service Grant recipients. Give all this, fulfilling the administration’s promises will be impossible, which could cause frozen or reduced Pell awards after FY 2021 even as college costs rise.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): The neediest of financially needy undergraduates are now receiving 1.8 million FSEOGs worth $1.2 billion. But the proposed budget would eliminate FSEOG funding, denying much-needed federal funds to exceptionally needy students. A side-effect would be fewer grants and scholarships for others as postsecondary schools, under pressure to be affordable to all qualified applicants regardless of their economic circumstances, would have to divert other grants and scholarships to students currently getting FSEOGs.

Federal Work-Study Program (FWS): Today, FWS provides part-time jobs to needy graduate, professional, and undergraduate students. Washington covers 75% of their wages. They work mostly on-campus and their jobs are often related to student majors. FWS also supports off-campus public interest jobs with government agencies and nonprofits. Mr. Trump would reduce FWS appropriation by 58%. He’d kick graduate and professional students out of the program and extend it’s payroll subsidy to for-profit employers providing “career-oriented” jobs. He’d also place greater emphasis on the numbers of Pell Grant recipients at FWS schools when allocating FWS funds to schools — further decreasing FWS jobs at some institutions and increasing them at others.

Overall: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said “The budget proposal is about one thing — putting students and their needs above all else.” This is misleading. In reality, the Trump proposals would slash funds for student grants, loans, and work-study by 81%.

There’s so much opposition to President Trump’s student aid budget proposals that one higher education publication has pronounced them “DOA.” But you can’t write them off. The national debt is at record levels, putting pressure on Congress to downsize federal spending. So all or some of these proposals could end up being attached to “must-pass” legislation.

So if you want affordable postsecondary education, it’s essential you tell your U.S. Senator and House member what you think about these proposals.

With 42 years experience in postsecondary student finance, College Affordability Solutions can help you develop strategies to use before, during, and after college to help upgrade your plans for keeping learning after high school within your means. Contact us at (512) 366-5354 or collegeafford@gmail.com to arrange a free consultation.

Before, During, and After College: How The Trump Budget Proposals Would Affect Your Federal Student Loans

President Trump sent Congress his fiscal year 2020-21 federal student loan budget proposals on Monday. As written, they would profoundly change these loans, on which approximately two-thirds of postsecondary students rely. Here’s how . . .

Undergraduate Loans: Subsidized Loans would be eliminated, so every dollar borrowed by financially needy undergraduates would come from Unsubsidized Loans. Unlike their subsidized counterparts, Unsubsidized Loans charge interest while undergraduates are enrolled and during their 6-month post-enrollment grace periods. At that point, they merge unpaid interest with loan principal and interest starts getting charged on interest. This would cause the average undergraduate pay up to $103 more for every $100 borrowed.

Graduate Student Loans: Unsubsidized Loans would stop for graduate students, leaving Graduate PLUS Loans as their only federal borrowing option. Graduate PLUS Loans have 1% higher interest rates than Unsubsidized Loans. Graduate PLUS Loans would also be capped for the first time ever — at $50,000 (annually) and $100,000 (lifetime). At today’s rates, all this would increase graduate loan costs by up to $42 per $100 borrowed.

Parent Loans: The budget would impose a $26,500 lifetime limit on Parent PLUS Loans. Once this limit’s reached, the child’s lifetime limit on Unsubsidized Loans would almost double, from $31,000 to $57,500.

Loan Repayment: Today, student borrowers may choose from up to 8 different repayment plans, 5 of which base monthly payment amounts on borrower income. The budget would replace all 5 income-driven plans with a Single Income-Based Repayment (SIBR) plan. SIBR would require monthly payments equaling 12.5% of what the borrower (and the borrower’s spouse, even if the couple doesn’t file a joint tax return) earn. SIBR would also eliminate the current cap income-driven monthly payments, so those with relatively high incomes would pay more each month.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): There’d be no PSLF for new borrowers on and after July 1, 2021. Those who borrow before that date would be PSLF-eligible, but only for loans they get to complete their “current course of study.”

Other Loan Forgiveness: Under SIBR, those who borrow only as undergraduates would have whatever they might still owe after 15 years forgiven. Those who borrow $1 or more as graduate students would qualify for forgiveness of whatever debt might remain after 30 years of SIBR payments, so they’d wait 5 to 10 more years for forgiveness than they do under current income-driven repayment plans.

Institutional Loan Counseling and Limits: Financial aid administrators would be empowered to limit borrowers to loan amounts below those allowed by federal law, and schools could prohibit students from using their federal loan funds to pay college costs until they complete financial literacy training.

Overall Impact: More expensive loans; fewer and costlier repayment options; less debt forgiveness; new obstacles to borrowing — this sums up the Trump budget proposals for federal student loans.

You can and should communicate your opinions about these proposals to your U.S. Senators and Representative by email or phone. Look here to find your Senators’ contact information and right here to get such information for your Representative.

Next Wednesday — the Trump budget proposals for federal grants and work-study.

Are you concerned about your student loan debt? Looking for some answers? Contact College Affordability Solutions at (512) 366-5354 or collegeafford@gmail.com for a consultation. We never charge future, current, or ex-students and their parents for consultations.

Before and During College: Ways to Save Money While Getting a Great College Education

Yes, college is expensive. The College Board reports that academic year 2019-20 costs undergraduates an average of $26,590 at public 4-year in-state colleges and universities and $53,980 at private 4-year colleges and universities.

Tuition and fees account for $10,440 and $36,880 these costs at public in-state and private 4-year schools, respectively. That leaves $16,150 and $17,100, respectively, at such institutions that’s spent on books, class supplies, room and board (or groceries, rent, and utilities for those living off-campus), and other living expenses.

Students can generate significant savings by cutting such expenses. Here are some ideas about how to do so:

– Bank Accounts: Use checking and savings accounts that offer students good deals with lower fees, lower minimum balances, and overdraft protections.

– Brown Bagging: Students living off-campus who can’t get home between classes can save about $25 a week, or $900 per academic year, by packing their lunches and forgoing meals from on-campus and nearby eating places.

– Cars: Students who don’t have cars shouldn’t shell out money to buy and ensure them. Students who have cars should leave them at home to reduce their gas, maintenance, and parking expenses. There are plenty of other, less expensive forms of transportation to meet students’ transportation needs.

– Coffee and Snacks: Nobody needs anything from Starbucks and other costly coffee and fast food places. Instead, coffee can be brewed at home, put in thermoses, and carried in backpacks that can also carry grocery store or homemade snacks.

– Convenience Stores: Convenience costs! A price comparison on 10 common grocery items sold at a convenience store and nearby supermarket showed that buying those items at the convenience store costs 45% more than at the supermarket.

– Credit Cards: High interest charges can be avoided by going without such cards or by not using them to buy more than can be paid off each month.

– Eating In: Eating in campus dining halls or preparing them at home costs less than restaurant meals. And when students do eat out, taking advantage of specials (e.g. Applebee’s 2 for $20, Chili’s 2 for $25, Olive Garden’s $7.99 lunch favorites and $11.99 never-ending pastas) is a money-saver.

– Spending Plans: After paying tuition and fees, students generally know how much they have left for an academic term. They also know themnumber of weeks in that term. So doing simple math — with adjustments here or there for special events and happenings — can help avoid money shortages before the term ends.

– Student Discounts: Students should always have their campus IDs with them so they can take advantage of on and off-campus discounts for students.

– Tap The Water: Forget bottled water. Forget sodas in their styrofoam and plastic cups. Simple tap water in a reusable thermal tumbler costs nothing, is healthier, and is better for the environment.

– Textbooks: There are many ways to cut textbook costs — e.g. accessing open texts, buying used books, sharing and trading books, and shopping around.

Students can spend less, and borrow less, while still getting a great college education. They should identify every money saver that works best for them, then do it!

Want more ideas on how students can cut spending on expenses other than tuition and fees? Take a look at College Affordability Solutions’ Topical Index or contact us at (512) 366-5354 or by email at collegeafford@gmail.com to arrange a free consultation.