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Students Respond to the Trump Budget: Completion Support Programs Are Too Critical to Cut

The Trump Administration’s proposed FY18 budget signals a clear disconnect between White House priorities and the realities facing America’s young people. The President’s budget makes severe cuts to programs that millions of young people use to build a better life for themselves, their families, and our national economy.

Alarmingly, the budget strips away long standing and successful support programs for students and young workers. At a time when higher education is an invaluable tool towards attaining long-term financial security, this budget strips young people of critical support to complete an education and be competitive in the workforce. The budget makes significant cuts to the Pell program, the largest and most consistent federal financial aid program for low income students, which served approximately 7.6 million students in the 2015-2016 school year. It proposes zeroing out federal funding for CCAMPIS, an on-campus childcare program that allows student parents, who make up 25 percent of all students, to go to school while also providing safe and affordable care to their children. And it cuts $488 million from Federal Work Study, a program that has helped millions of students work their way through college while providing meaningful work experience.

Yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the Senate Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee. Both Republican and Democratic senators asked tough questions about the Trump Administration’s plans to cut or eliminate programs important to students. Below, students from around the country share how federal financial aid programs have positively impacted their educational careers and financial security, and their fears for the future if these programs are cut as a result of the Trump budget.

Kimberly Cooley, CSU San Bernardino
Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) Program
“CCAMPIS made safe child care affordable for my one income family and provided me the opportunity to complete courses during the times of day when I didn’t have home resources available for childcare. With access to quality, reliable, and consistent child care, I was able to make it to every class meeting and focus on my academics which significantly boosted my GPA. The CCAMPIS program on my campus also provides parenting workshops, which helped me better understand the development of my toddler and infant and significantly improved our relationship,” says Kimberly Cooley a 2016 graduate of California State University in San Bernardino and mother of a two and four year old. She is now pursuing a Master’s Degree and Teaching Credentials ahead of beginning her teaching career and attributes her success, in part, to the support provided by CCAMPIS.

“I cannot stress enough the vital role the CCAMPIS program played in the completion of my education. From assisting with the financial hardship of paying for quality childcare, to providing a support system and community of parents and teachers, and building understanding of my children’s growth, the CCAMPIS program was a lifeline to me as a parent in school. CCAMPIS reaches the families who are stuck in the middle of not being able to afford the costs of quality childcare on their own but who are also are not eligible for general government assistance. If the budget zeroes out funding for CCAMPIS, it could render a higher education inaccessible to many deserving parents who would be stripped of the opportunity to complete their degrees due to child care needs. We need to keep CCAMPIS funded.”

Trixie Cortes, Denison University
Federal Work Study

“Work study at Denison University has taught me discipline and how to bring the best out in people,” says rising senior Trixie Cortes who has benefitted from work study during her time at Denison University in Ohio. Since beginning work study Trixie has become more financially independent, begun paying off student loans, and developed leadership skills that she will rely on when she graduates next year.

“In my sophomore year as an America Reads tutor I was able to connect with children in the earliest phases of their education. Now, as a studio art teaching assistant for my university, I help students at Denison make the most out of their classes. My jobs also allow me to begin making payments towards my student loans and help to pay for all the expenses associated with attending college, like meals and books, while also developing skills that I can use in a career. I’m glad that work study was available to help me graduate with less debt and I’m excited to bring these skills to my job search next year. I’m deeply concerned that the President’s proposed budget would give fewer students the opportunities I had. Cutting funding for the work study program would burden students with more debt and make them less prepared to enter the workforce and succeed at a job.”

Darius Wade, University of Memphis
Pell Grants 
Recipients of Pell grants are often those students in the most difficult financial situations, trying to work their way out of poverty and find new opportunities for themselves and their families. It is troubling to hear that the Trump administration wants to cut supports for these communities, and to me it is an issue of equity. If we don’t help young people climb out of poverty through higher education, we’ll only let equity gaps persist or widen. I grew up believing that anyone can achieve the American Dream if they work hard enough. Cutting the budget for the Pell grant program is not a reflection of that dream.

I am a Pell grant recipient myself, and without Pell I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am a first-generation student who is proud to be on track to graduate from University of Memphis in the spring on 2018. I have still taken on significant debt to obtain my degree, over $20,000, but without Pell grants, school wouldn’t have even been an option for me. I plan to continue my education to become an attorney and hopefully one day a lawmaker myself.