President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget request proposes deep cuts to STEM education programs across the federal science agencies. It would zero out two Department of Education grant programs that states use to support STEM education, and terminate the Offices of Education at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Trump administration is proposing to slash funding for major federal STEM education programs in fiscal year 2018. Under the president's budget, STEM programs at the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense would see deep cuts, while the Offices of Education at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be eliminated. Two major grant programs at the Department of Education that states use to support STEM initiatives — the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers — have also been targeted for elimination.
More detailed budget information on federal STEM programs by account is available in FYI’s Federal Science Budget Tracker. Below are selected highlights from the request.
Department of Education
The DOEd budget request proposes a reduction of $9 billion in discretionary funds below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level to “streamline [DOEd] programs consistent with a limited federal role in education.”
The proposal “recognizes the primary role of states and school districts in turning around failing schools, improving classroom instruction, and closing achievement gaps,” and proposes reductions or eliminations for over 30 discretionary programs and activities that “do not address national needs, duplicate other programs, are ineffective, or are more appropriately supported with state, local, or private funds.” Among the programs targeted for elimination are the $1.2 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which can be utilized to establish centers that provide STEM enrichment programs and activities to students during non-school hours, and the $400 million Student Support & Academic Enrichment Grant program authorized as part of Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which can fund programs and activities that enhance STEM skills and support non-traditional STEM teaching.
The administration’s request has so far received a lukewarm response in Congress. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who chairs the appropriations committee responsible for DOEd’s budget, stated during a recent hearing that “the kinds of cuts that are proposed in this budget will not occur,” and that with respect to the elimination of before and after school programs it would “be all but impossible to get those kinds of cuts through this committee.”
- Career and Technical Education: Proposes $977 million for Career and Technical Education (CTE), a 13 percent reduction from the fiscal year 2017 level. However, the request includes $27 million, a $20 million or 269 percent increase, for national programs that would “support a competition to promote the development, enhancement, implementation, or expansion of innovative CTE programs in STEM fields.”
- Hispanic Serving Institutions: Provides the fully authorized amount of $100 million for the Hispanic Serving Institutions STEM & Articulation Program.
National Science Foundation
The administration is proposing $1 billion in support for STEM education at NSF in fiscal year 2018. Within that, the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate would receive $761 million, a $119 million or 14 percent reduction from fiscal year 2017 levels. EHR would focus on three “core research areas” for fiscal year 2018: broadening participation and institutional capacity, learning and learning environments, and STEM professional workforce development.
House Democrats expressed their concern with cuts to NSF STEM programs at a recent Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the NSF budget, with Ranking Member José Serrano (D-NY) strongly objecting to the cuts in EHR’s budget.
- Graduate Research Fellowship: Reduces funding to $247 million, 26 percent below the fiscal year 2016 level, for the Graduate Research Fellowship program, and would halve the number of new participants to 1,000.
- STEM+C: Reduces funding by 37 percent for the STEM + Computing Partnerships programs, which support activities that advance K–12 computational skills through STEM teaching and learning.
- Advanced Technological Education: Reduces funding by 11 percent for the Advanced Technological Education program, which supports two-year educational programs for high-demand science and engineering fields, including photonics and optics.
NASA’s $100 million Office of Education is targeted for elimination. The administration requests a $63 million decrease in fiscal year 2018, with the remaining funds providing for the closeout of its programs, including the Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, Minority University and Research Education Program, and STEM Education and Accountability Projects.
The Science Mission Directorate’s education budget would increase 19 percent to $44 million. During his “State of NASA” address, Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot remarked that NASA will “continue to inspire that next generation…we do it through our missions, we do it through the many ways our work excites and encourages discovery by learners and educators.”
Members of Congress expressed bipartisan concern about the elimination of the Office of Education during recent hearings on the NASA fiscal year 2018 budget.
Department of Energy
Under the Trump budget, most STEM education programs at DOE would see reduced funding support.
- Office of Science: Reduces funding by $6 million, or 28 percent, for the Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists Program, and eliminates support for the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program. Requests $10 million for the continuation of the Computational Sciences Graduate Fellowship.
- Office of Nuclear Energy: Terminates the $5 million Integrated University Program.
- National Nuclear Security Administration: Proposes $53 million, a 6 percent increase, for the Academic Alliances and Partnerships subprogram, including $19 million, approximately the same amount as in fiscal year 2017, for the Minority Serving Institution Partnerships Program that provides support for “STEM development initiatives at key institutions and builds pipelines of talent in unique skill sets required by the nuclear weapons enterprise.”
Department of Defense
DOD STEM education programs face cuts, ranging from a 6.4 percent reduction for the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) to a 23 percent reduction for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions Program. Nevertheless, STEM education is identified in the request as a “Cross-Agency Priority Goal.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The administration proposes the termination of NOAA’s $27 million Office of Education and its associated programs, which would “limit NOAA’s education and outreach coordination effort across the agency and with external partners.” The termination of the office also eliminates support for the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions grants.