Student Aid Funding

NAICU supports increased federal funding for the proven student aid programs, which work together to ensure that qualified low- and middle-income students who are prepared for college have the same opportunity to get into, persist, and complete college as students with greater resources.

NAICU advocates for the funding of the Pell Grant program, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), Federal Work Study (FWS), Perkins Loans, LEAP state partnership grants, TRIO, GEAR UP, and graduate education.

NAICU and the American Council on Education (ACE) co-chair the Student Aid Alliance, which brings together more than 80 organizations representing students, financial aid officers, colleges, and others who support student aid. Together, the Alliance proposed a FY 2018 Appropriations Request that would provide adequate funds to ensure the scheduled increase for the Pell Grant maximum, reinstate year-round Pell, and increase or maintain funding for the other programs.


The federal student aid programs have enjoyed bipartisan support for decades. Currently, the federal government provides $140 billion in student loans, grants, and work study each year to help more than 13 million students pay for college.

NAICU has supported federal funding for student aid since its inception in 1976; and the Student Aid Alliance has been successful in turning massive proposed cuts to student aid into program increases since 1994.   

Status of FY 2017 Appropriations

After the November 2016 elections, Congress did not complete work on the FY 2017 appropriations bills during their lame duck session, despite the fact that fiscal year had already begun on October 1, 2016.  After a series of continuing resolutions to keep the government running, the new Congress reached a final spending agreement May 1, 2017, which prioritizes student aid funding.  

The spending bill restores the Year-Round Pell Grant provision and maintains the maximum grant at $5,920 for the 2017-18 award year; increases TRIO by $50 million and GEAR UP by $17 million; level funds SEOG and Federal Work Study, and cuts graduate education by $1 million.

Both chambers passed the omnibus appropriations bill by bipartisan margins (House vote/Senate vote) and President Trump signed the bill avoiding a government shutdown. 

Status of FY 2018 Appropriations

  • The FY 2018 appropriation process got off to a delayed start, which is not unusual after the inauguration of a new president.  On March 16, 2017, President Trump submitted an outline of his FY 2018 budget and then submitted his full budget proposal, which was not favorable to the student aid programs, to Congress on May 23.  
  • The president proposes $150 billion in cuts to the student aid programs over 10 years.  The budget would eliminate the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant; cut Federal Work Study funding in half; eliminate subsidized loans for low-income students; cut TRIO and GEAR UP by $200 million; and cut $4 billion from the Pell Grant surplus.  The budget proposes to keep the Pell Grant maximum at $5,920 without an inflation-indexed increase.
  • The Labor-HHS-Education appropriation subcommittees have held hearings with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to discuss the agency’s budget, but they have not yet set a schedule for writing the bill.    

What You Can Do

College presidents are one of the most respected voices heard by Members of Congress.
  • Use your NAICU Student Aid Data Sheet to show how federal funding helps students at your school.
  • Bring a student or student story with you when you meet with your congressional representatives.
  • Activate the SaveStudentAid campaign on your campus to get more voices supporting student aid funding. Twitter and Facebook can be used to share the message.

NAICU Contacts