Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, April 18, 2011

FY '11 federal budget preserves Pell grants, cuts some research funds

The U.S. House and Senate on Friday finalized spending for the remainder of federal fiscal year 2011, preserving Pell grants but trimming funds for some agencies where faculty and researchers compete for support.

And, on top of any specific program cuts, there was an across-the-board 0.2 percent reduction on all non-defense programs.

Specifically, the final legislation maintained the current Pell maximum grant at $5,550. However, the legislation eliminated the year-round Pell grant. Several smaller student-aid programs including SEOG and Javits Fellowships were reduced.

Yet to be determined by internal Department of Education negotiations is the possibility of a 40 percent cut to Title VI-International Education Programs. U-M's International Institute is home to numerous Title VI Centers.

On research, the legislation would reduce spending at the National Institutes of health by 0.8 percent; the National Science Foundation by 1 percent; and NASA by 10 percent. The Department of Energy's Office of Science would be cut by $46 million, but would reclaim $77 million in earmarks from FY '10 that will help mitigate that reduction. Department of Defense basic research essentially will stay at the Pentagon's requested level.

Other programs of interest to the university will see significant reductions. These include the National Endowment for the Humanities, which will see its spending trimmed by $13 million, and Americorps, which will be cut by $23 million.

With the funding for FY '11 behind it, the House then moved to approve its FY '12 budget resolution. That broad spending plan calls for saving $6 trillion over the next 10 years.

Among the highlights would be reductions in Pell grants and other student support programs, accepting the president's proposed cuts in defense, and support for tax reform.

While the budget appears silent on specific research agencies, the resolution does endorse gradual increases in support for basic research while paring back applied or commercial research.

Overall, the general science function would receive $27.3 billion in budget authority for FY '12, reaching $30 billion by FY '21. No specifics are provided for the National Institutes of Health, although the overall spending for the Department of Health and Human Services would be reduced.

The Senate will consider its own version of a FY '12 budget resolution later, and that plan is expected to be far different than the House plan.