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 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

  • In December 2016, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government running until April 28, 2017. The CR maintains FY 2016 funding levels, with a 0.19% across-the-board cut to stay under the Budget Control Act discretionary cap for 2017.  It also maintains the scheduled increase in the Pell Grant maximum award to $5,920.
  • The new Congress is developing a strategy to finalize FY 2017 funding before the April 28 deadline.  President Trump has proposed cuts to current funding levels to help pay for a border wall and increase Defense spending, but all signs are that Congress will reject those proposals.

Status of FY 2018 Appropriations

  • On March 16, 2017, President Trump submitted an outline of his FY 2018 budget for discretionary spending, which includes $6 billion in cuts to the student aid programs.  
  • The budget proposes to eliminate the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant; significantly cut Federal Work Study funding (possibly by half); cut TRIO and GEAR UP programs by $200 million; and cut $4 billion from the Pell Grant surplus. 
  • The full budget proposal is expected in May, 2017, and will include entitlement programs and more details for all agencies.  The timing of these budget proposals is not unusual for an incoming administration.

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