U officials do the math on Bush budget plan

The president’s budget proposal would raise the first-year borrowing limit.

Amy Horst

President George W. Bush unveiled a $2.4 trillion budget plan Monday that could affect the University and its students in many ways.

The proposal included an increase in loans for first-year students, increased funding for humanities programs, and increases and decreases in science programs.

Under Bush’s plan, the amount first-year students can borrow from federal student-aid programs would increase from $2,625 to $3,000. The overall limit would remain at $23,000.

Kris Wright, director of the Office of Student Finance, said this is one of the proposal’s better aspects.

“It’s a small step in the right direction,” she said.

However, the Pell Grant would remain at $4,050 for the third year in a row. Wright said that while the grant covered 80 percent of tuition costs in 1972, it currently covers 40 percent.

“It makes it more costly for students to attend,” she said. “If the only way to fill that gap is to borrow, then they will borrow.”

The administration will ask Congress to revise the formula used to distribute federal student aid to serve the neediest students better.

The humanities

Bush proposed a 20 percent increase to the National Endowment for the Humanities, mostly for the endowment’s American history project. The proposed increase could affect the University’s history department by funding some of its current or future projects.

M.J. Maynes, head of the history department, said the Immigration History Research Center is one program that could benefit from the budget proposal.

The center houses documents and pictures that capture the history of immigrants in the United States. Maynes said increased NEH funding would stabilize the center and encourage similar projects in the future.

The sciences

Bush proposed a 3 percent increase in funding for the National Science Foundation, which gives the University research grants. The increase is slightly below the rate of inflation.

Roberta Humphreys, associate dean of the Institute of Technology, said she was disappointed with the president’s proposal.

“Three percent is not going to go very far, particularly given the cost of doing research,” Humphreys said.

Sam Rankin, associate executive director for the American Mathematical Society, said he was also let down the proposal.

“Science is an investment for our country,” Rankin said. “Universities and the country reap benefits down the road from investments in science.”

Under the plan, the National Institutes of Health budget would increase by 2.7 percent. That could equal an extra $28.8 billion for the agency.

The proposed budget would focus on biomedical research to combat bioterrorism. The plan includes $150 million that would go toward building 20 biocontainment laboratories at universities and research institutions.

Charles Moldow, associate dean for research in the Medical School, said there is a demand for a University facility to research agents such as monkey pox.

Last fiscal year, the University received $239 million in awards from the NIH, Moldow said.