February 17, 2012

FY13 Budget Supports Research, Student Aid

By Christy Gullion

The Obama Administration’s FY13 budget, released on February 13, reflects a continuing commitment to increased federal investments in research and education.  The budget would increase funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF); the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and ARPA-E; and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) in the Department of Agriculture, which supports competitive research.  It also would provide a modest funding increase for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  Similarly, funding for basic research at the Department of Defense (DOD) is essentially level despite significant cuts elsewhere in the agency. 

Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be essentially frozen at the FY12 level.  The science portfolio at NASA would be cut by more than three percent.  

For student aid, the Administration would fully fund the maximum Pell Grant level of $5,635 and extend the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans, which otherwise would rise to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012.  Additionally, the Administration would shift campus-based aid programs, such as Perkins Loans, toward institutions that “keep their tuition and tuition increases low,” enroll relatively high numbers of Pell-eligible students, and provide “good value.”  No additional details are available on exactly how the Administration would implement this.

The FY13 budget also contains several tax proposals of interest to research universities.  These include making the American Opportunity Tax Credit permanent and limiting the value of certain tax expenditures, including the deduction for charitable contributions for individual taxpayers, to 28 percent.  The budget would also expand the Build America Bonds program by making the program permanent, expanding eligibility to both government entities and nonprofit institutions—including both public and private universities—and expanding the allowed uses of the bonds.

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