Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

What The Debt Ceiling Deal Means For Education

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US President Barack Obama announces a debt ceiling deal at the White House on July 31, 2011.

Circle and star a new date on your calendars, political wonks: November 23, 2011.

If lawmakers can’t agree on new cuts to discretionary spending by then, as they say they will under Sunday’s debt ceiling deal, then $500 billion in deep, across-the-board cuts kick in automatically — and education would be one of the specific targets. The White House calls this an “enforcement mechanism” to make sure all sides have an incentive to participate in talks on what to cut.

In the short term, education got a reprieve. The debt deal spares Pell Grant funding from cuts many had feared, and lawmakers appear committed to holding the line on the level of tuition assistance it offers to low-income students.

But that doesn’t mean the deal has soothed every worry.

The bipartisan debt reduction “Committee of Twelve” will cut $900 billion in “discretionary funding” by that November 23 deadline — from where it’s not clear — but K-12 education programs could be in the crosshairs.

The Associated Press reports the cuts could affect the early childhood program Head Start, and other federal aid to states for education. The top Democrat on the House Education committee, California Rep. George Miller, told the AP the cuts “are going to make life much more difficult for” public schools.

Those in higher education appear a lot less worried after the deal, though. Inside Higher Ed wrote:

The situation is overall less dire for federal financial aid programs than it seemed earlier in the debt talks, when proposals were put forward to cut Pell Grants and eliminate subsidized student loans.

The White House said in a fact sheet posted online Sunday night that the deal was “designed to protect crucial investments like aid for college students,” giving “specific protection in the discretionary budget” to ensure that there will be sufficient funding to keep Pell Grants at their current level.




  • Concerned

    Education, yah that’s where we need to decrease investment, not wasteful military, or fraud in medicaire, no.

  • Concerned

    Education, yah that’s where we need to decrease investment, not wasteful military, or fraud in medicaire, no.

  • Carlos Navarro

    It’s not education per se that will be cut. It’s the mammoth white elephant and sacred cows of the the public education establishment that will and must be slashed, to the bone. .Pouring trillions year after year into a failed institution is not smart economics.

    • StateImpact Indiana

      Can you elaborate on what institutions you think are “failed” or “sacred cows”?

  • Educated

    Education is a “failed institution” that needs to be drastically cut? Why do we need education at all? Our students already barely know how to read and write, so what’s the point? And educators are so poorly paid that the good teachers will continue to leave for better paying jobs. I guess the sacred cow that a good education is the best way to advance oneself in life is futile too. This country is really in trouble.

  • Tanya Wells

    What they need to do is modify which schools are entitled to receive pell grants or federal loans for students. We all know that these diploma mills are out there which charge more, cause students to go in over their heads in debt with promises of a degree, but they don’t tell them that more then likely their degree will not be honored. Bottom line, if the credits you are taking at a school will not transfer to a University or even a community college chances are they are not a good school anyway and should not receive pell grant payments or any kind or federal assisted funding.

  • online loans

    College grads are still having problems with finding a job. You can’t pay back loans if you don’t have steady income. It’s just that simple. It doesn’t make sense for someone is employed on a salary to not pay back their loans. They have the means to do so. However, if you are unemployed, desperately searching and applying for jobs, with no steady income, how could you logically pay back any loans? It makes sense to me but it doesn’t seem to make sense to those looking to collect the funds. Also, not all careers are financially lucrative post-college as Kim stated. Maybe loan companies need to work more closely with college graduates and the private sector so that they can move forward in their careers, creating a win-win situation for both the graduate and the lender. But I know this is Pollyanna thinking, so we shall see.

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