President’s budget poses education cuts, benefits

By Matt Daray

 

proposed 2014 budget could generate a larger impact on students than they might suspect.

On Wednesday, Obama presented his proposed 2014 fiscal-year budget, which asks for $950 billion in cuts over the next 10 years from areas such as Social Security and Medicare. This plan would reduce the nation’s debt by almost a trillion dollars compared to the 2013 budget plan, according to data provided by the Washington Post.

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While political parties debate the details, some experts agree cuts to programs such as Social Security could have ripple effects for students later in life.

The plan consists of many budget cuts and increases. However, education risks one of the largest cuts with a proposed $56.7 billion decrease, a 10.8 percent drop from this year’s funding. While the budget asks for $56.7 billion instead of the projected $71.2 billion education will need, the difference will be covered by collecting student-loan interest, fees and other methods to allow the department to spend more, while receiving less.

The budget also includes changing student loan rates to supply and demand based rates, rather than letting Congress set them, as well as $1 billion for a college affordability initiative that would reward individual states for keeping college costs down and investing in improved results.

David Yepsen, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute director, said the budget effects reach further than most college students suspect.

“This budget affects students a lot,” he said. “It will affect Pell grants. It will affect federal gain for grants … The more (debt) society incurs affects them. Federal spending affects job opportunities after you graduate, so this is something that has a huge impact literally on the daily lives of students. (It will) affect if some people can even go to school, the size of classes and the number of class offerings. This should not be an abstract issue for any students.”

While the president’s plan makes sense, Yepsen said, it still needs work.

“It’s heading in the right direction,” he said. “Both Obama and the Republicans have got to make some compromises, and (Obama) started moving in that direction.”

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Yepsen said Republicans are reluctant to talk about creating new revenue sources for the country, but they’ve shown they like the idea.

It is possible for the Democrats and Republicans to come to a budget agreement for 2014, he said, but both sides must work together. While Republicans don’t like to increase revenues and Democrats don’t like to cut Social Security, Yepsen said, both sides might have to deal with it because the nation’s budget deficit is so large.

Dennis Johnson, a semi-retired teacher and university alumnus with a master’s degree in political science, said the budget affects college students because it could mean cuts or the elimination of programs they might need later in life.

“The more money that’s pilled on the (national) debt, the more burden for students in the future,” he said. “If you eliminate these programs, then they won’t be there when younger people get there. It’s very important to start paying attention to it.”

If individuals can pay more taxes or other fees and still be able to live comfortably, he said, then they should so they can save essential programs from receiving cuts.

Johnson said the budget is similar to retirement for college students because they don’t think about it until they are older. He said it is important for young people to take a better interest in politics and vote to represent themselves and prevent legislation that might favor older individuals.

Even though Yepsen and Johnson think politics and the budget are important for students to learn about, some students, opinions vary on how the budget affects their lives.

Joshua Curvey, a freshman from Alton studying architecture, said he thinks the budget will have some impact on his life, but politics as a whole don’t impact him much at this point in his life.

“Nothing I’ve really been involved in has really been determined by politics,” he said. “I’m sure some stuff has been affected by politics, but nothing too big. Until I get a bit older and until something really comes across that really has a lot to do with my life that politics are going to determine, I think that’ll be when I pay a little more attention to it and be a little more interested in it.”

Jessica Brunner, a junior from Stockton studying human nutrition and dietetics, said she thinks the budget and politics impact her life ,but she finds it hard to take a stance on issues because of the multiple topics these areas cover.

“I’ve tried to get into more things but it seems the more I try to read about it, the less I actually know about anything,” she said. “I try to learn more, but it seems like I really don’t know where to start.”

However, Andrew Barbero, a graduate doctorate student in historical studies from St. Louis, said he has seen national budget elements at work in his everyday life.

“Politics affects me in so many different ways,” he said. “My wife has a congenital heart defect, so the affordable care act has had a profoundly positive impact on us personally. Student loan reform has had a profound impact on my family as well, and made it a little easier to get my education.”

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