For Immediate Release
February 11, 2020
Contact: Andrew Farnitano, 925-917-1354,
Hildreth Institute: Trump Budget Would Mean Higher Costs for 134,000 Massachusetts College Students; Major Cuts to Supports for Low-Income Students

BOSTON – The Trump Administration’s proposed FY21 budget would mean higher-cost student loans for 134,00 Massachusetts student borrowers, lower levels of financial aid for 119,000 low-income students in the state, and major cuts to local programs that prepare 21,531 low-income students for college each year, according to an analysis by the Hildreth Institute, a non-profit research and policy center dedicated to restoring the promise of higher education as an engine of upward mobility for all.

“The Trump Administration’s proposal is out of touch with the college affordability crisis our nation is facing and its larger societal ramifications, from the wellbeing of our economy to national security,” said Bahar Akman Imboden, PhD., Managing Director of the Hildreth Institute. “While others are discussing bold ideas to make college accessible and affordable to all, Trump would instead eliminate existing programs that help level the playing field for those who need a college degree the most. These proposals would hurt tens of thousands of Massachusetts students who are already struggling to afford college.”

According to an initial analysis by the Hildreth Institute, the Trump Administration’s proposed budget would:

  • Cut federal student loan programs by $170 billion without offering an alternative financial aid option for low-income students, which will either price them out of college or force them to borrow private loans with high-interest rates.
  • End the subsidized federal Stafford Loan, raising borrowing costs for 134,000 Massachusetts students who benefit from subsidized federal loans each year.
  • Freeze the maximum Pell Grant for the next decade, resulting in lower levels of grant-based financial aid for 119,000 Massachusetts students who receive Pell Grants each year.
  • Eliminate the public service loan forgiveness program, which thousands of Massachusetts graduates use to follow their passion in service to the public with careers like teaching or social work.
  • Slash $140 million in funding for TRIO programs that help prepare low-income, first-generation college, and disabled Americans for success in college. There are 52 TRIO programs in Massachusetts that collectively serve 21,531 low-income students.
  • Eliminate the $365 million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative, which provides 6,300 middle-school and high-school Massachusetts students and their families with assistance in the college search and application process, SAT test preparation, financial counseling and academic support services intended to help students arrive on campus prepared to succeed in credit-bearing course work.

“When you look beneath the cuts, the Administration’s budget includes a few good ideas, like streamlining complex repayment options and setting ‘sensible annual and lifetime loan limits’ for parents who borrow to help their children,” said Akman Imboden. “But these minor fixes are like changing the oil on a car that has fallen off a cliff. We are in dire need of bolder ideas to alleviate the immense burden of college debt from our youth, their families, and the overall economy. Trump’s proposed cuts are deeply misguided, and members of Congress who care about students should ignore them and instead consider serious increases in student aid.”

Hildreth Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to restoring the promise of higher education as an engine of upward mobility for all. We believe that all students should be able to obtain a high-quality, zero-debt postsecondary education. At Hildreth Institute, we fight for zero-debt college because we believe that student loans are not the right financial aid tool for our students or their families. We need to move to a zero-debt system that makes high-quality college affordable to all, without leaving students mired in debt.
We research, develop, and promote solutions for changes in public policies and institutional financial practices that will reduce costs to students and improve quality. Through partnerships with researchers and policy experts, with politically diverse organizations, with policymakers from both major political parties, and with corporate and community leaders, we will build support for transformative change in higher education financing. Working closely with our sister organization, Zero Debt Massachusetts, we will empower students and families to come together to demand change and hold policymakers and college leaders accountable. Hildreth Institute is a member of the national Higher Ed, Not Debt coalition, a campaign of dozens of organizations dedicated to tackling the crippling and ever-growing issue of student loan debt in America.