Trump’s proposed budget impacts higher education, research

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Billions of dollars would be cut from various agencies under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget plan, impacting numerous higher education programs and research opportunities, according to a statement from the president of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities. 

APLU President Peter McPherson released the statement three weeks ago, describing the impact the proposed budget would have on various government agencies. McPherson said the budget cuts would impair the progress many agencies have made with research, which would in turn impact the research done by higher education officials and researchers. 

“For decades, the United States has maintained its position as a global innovation leader, but this budget would force a retreat from that role and cede the development of new technological breakthroughs to other countries,” McPherson said. “This would, in turn, create an innovation deficit and enable those other countries to reap the economic benefits instead of us.”

The proposed budget brings major changes to the funding many agencies receive. Trump has focused his attention to providing more funding to agencies involving national security, such as Defense with a 10 percent increase in funding and Homeland Security with a 6.8 percent increase in funding. The proposed budget also shows an increase in Veterans Affairs, which will get a 6 percent increase in funding. 

Agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency will see a 31 percent decrease in funding, while the Health and Human Services agency will have a 17.9 percent reduction in funding. The budget cuts will have a lasting impact on researchers, who receive grants and other funding from these government agencies, advocates said.

“There’s never been much money in my field, and I don’t anticipate there will be in the near future,” said Richard Corsi, professor for the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering. “It’s probably very unlikely that I’ll be getting any funding from the EPA in the next several years for that reason and because of the budget cuts.”

Students are also concerned about the proposed budget cuts.

For example, the Education agency is looking at a 14 percent decrease in funding. As part of these cuts, federal work-study would be reduced, which provides students with part-time jobs to pay for college expenses. 

Advertising senior Alex Roper, who worked for the Department of Communication Studies last year, is dependent upon his father for financial support. Roper said work-study provides financial benefits for students and for the universities. 

“UT may be able to work quicker and more efficiently (with work-study), because they have more hands on deck,” Roper said. “If you can take that opportunity away, the school would have to pay for more (employees), which would mean less money in other areas, I assume.”  

The UT System has also expressed its concern for the proposed budget, which will face various hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate over the next few months.  

“Investment in science and research is what moves our country forward, paving the way for innovation, discovery and life-saving cures,” said Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, executive director of media relations and external communications for the UT System. “UT System leaders stand with APLU in asking Congress to continue to support federally-funded research, which has proven so crucial to our nation’s success.”