By Imajae Johnson
A recent federal budget proposal, could result in the elimination of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program, or DCTAG, by one-fourth. This tuition aid program helps thousands of D.C. residents afford college.
Currently, the government provides $40 million to the program, giving city students an affordable college option.
The students of the city who receive assistance, don’t have access to an in-state university system because Washington D.C. is a federal district and not a state.
This proposed plan would cut appropriations for the program to $30 million, and the District would have to make up the difference. However, according to President Trump, the program “lacks a clear federal role for supporting the cost of higher education, specifically for District residents.”
Democratic Mayor, Muriel E. Bowser, said in a statement to the Washington Post, “DCTAG is a successful program that has worked for years to expand educational opportunities for our younger people, and it is unfathomable that any leader working to build a safer, stronger, and more competitive country would choose to cut a program like this rather than expanding it.”
Since the start of the program, it has awarded $350 million and has helped more than 26,000 students enroll at 578 colleges. Students can receive as much as, $10,000 a year to attend a public university, or up to 2,500 to attend a private college. Although the amount of tuition assistance is great, that won’t be the case any longer if the proposed bill is passed.
Many D.C. students could be in jeopardy of losing a substantial part of their tuition. Norfolk State currently has a mass number of students from the D.C. area that receive the DCTAG.
Argelia Rodriguez, President and Chief Executive of the District of Columbia College Access Program, a college advising group known as, DC-CAP, told the Post, “we really don’t have a lot of financial aid in D.C. Before the program stated, few colleges and universities sent recruiters to D.C. public schools. The tuition aid program helped colleges recognize that D.C. students probably could afford to attend their institutions.”
*Correction* An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Senate Appropriations Committee submitted the new spending bill. To date, there has been no funding bills introduced for the 2019 fiscal year and the FY2018 Omnibus funded DCTAG at $40 million. We apologize for our mistake.