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Education Funding

Ryan Budget Seeks Changes to Pell Grants, Elimination of ‘Duplicative’ K-12 Programs

By Alyson Klein — April 01, 2014 1 min read
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There would be big changes to the Pell Grant program, which offers college aid to low-income students, and a myriad of “duplicative” education programs would be consolidated, under a budget blueprint released Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Ryan writes that “the current structure for K-12 programs at the Department of Education is fragmented and ineffective” and that a number of programs are “duplicative” and only serve a small number of students.

The document, which sets broad spending parameters, but generally doesn’t include detailed program-by-program spending levels, recommends that Congress “terminate and reduce programs that are failing to improve student achievement.”

Ryan says that Democrats have boosted the Pell Grant program too quickly, and cites the program as “a perfect example of promises that can not be kept.” And his budget recommends a number of changes to the program, many of which the budget chairman has proposed before, such as tightening eligibility for the grants, putting in place a maximum income cap, and eliminating eligibility for students who aren’t at least considered half-time.

If these ideas sound familiar, that’s because they closely mirror the education portion of previous Ryan budget blueprints. So far, those ideas have run into trouble in the Democratically-controlled Senate ... and with the Obama administration.

It’s worth noting that even though many of Ryan’s ideas are firmly rooted in GOP philosophy, he worked out a short-term budget agreement late last year with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who heads up the Senate Budget Committee. The deal temporarily rolled back a big portion of the automatic cuts to education spending and other programs known as “sequestration.”

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