President Donald Trump wants to cut in half a Republican-friendly financial-aid program that embodies the party’s value of hard work.
The cuts in the program, which benefits almost 10,000 students in Kentucky, are just part of the 13 percent decrease of the total Department of Education budget.
University of Kentucky Provost Tim Tracy said about 460 UK students participate in this “critically important program.”
Tracy said that he and others at UK are working with the Kentucky congressional delegation to ensure members understand the importance of work-study. He said he hopes any reforms to the program would not reduce the number of UK students who benefit.
UK and many other public, private, liberal-arts and community colleges are in Rep. Andy Barr’s 6th Congressional District. With so many constituents who could benefit from work-study, Barr should champion the program and persuade fellow Republicans and Kentuckians in Congress to do the same.
Of course, turning back the cuts to work-study before the final budget is passed should be a bipartisan effort, but with the GOP-controlled Congress, work-study as it is today cannot survive without Republican support.
In 2016, 635,000 students earned $1.1 billion through the work-study program. Under Trump’s budget, $553,728,000 would benefit only 333,000 students.
The true value of the program is more than the money — it’s the jobs.
Work-study helps get students out of fast-food kitchens and into jobs related to their educations and their futures. Work-study jobs typically have better hours, a more supportive environment for the student’s academics and are often on campus. In addition, they give students valuable, career-related work experience.
Some in education agree with the Trump budget’s assertion that the 50-year-old program has become “poorly targeted.” The Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators found fault with the formula used to allocate money to students. Adjustments should be made to ensure the program serves those most in need and more undergraduates, the experts say.
Perhaps a better solution than cutting the program in half would be fixing the formula.
The first step is for Barr and other Republicans to speak up in Congress and save the funding for work-study so students — including many right here in Kentucky — can get the jobs they need.