The Trump administration is circulating a list of programs to eliminate — and it includes the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that finances AmeriCorps, which places young people in service positions in which they earn money for student aid or to repay student loans.
The list, revealed by The New York Times, also includes the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, previously reported to be targets for elimination in the first Trump budget. Both the NEH and the NEA support campus programs, and their advocates in higher education are already seeking support to save the agencies.
The Times article noted that the list indicates that final decisions haven’t been made, but all of the programs on the list have for years had conservative critics who want to end them.
In the case of AmeriCorps, the program was a major initiative of President Clinton, and has long been associated with him. Hillary Clinton, in her campaign, vowed to expand the program. While many have praised the program for promoting service among young people and providing them with money for college, the program has been stymied by tight budgets and has never become as large or influential as President Clinton envisioned. (Here is a background article from 2014 about the program on its 20th anniversary.)
AmeriCorps has been a meaningful source of money for college for its participants. For a year of service, students can receive a grant equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant to use for future college costs or to repay student loans, and students may receive up two of these educational awards. (The maximum Pell Grant for 2015-16 was $5,775.)
Since 1994, about 1 million people who were AmeriCorps participants have received education grants that total more than $2.4 billion. The value of the grants is even larger at the many colleges and universities that match AmeriCorps education awards.
The programs on the list obtained by the Times are all relatively small, but the article suggested that the administration wants to find any savings possible in domestic spending and to eliminate programs when possible.
As word spread Friday night of AmeriCorps as a target, its program participants and alumni took to social media to talk about what they had done in the program.
I served 3 terms in AmeriCorps with a program that taught underserved children how to read. https://t.co/VJPBE48U9J
— Sara Galactica (@saraGalactica) February 18, 2017
@TUSK81 I’m an AmeriCorps alum. I mentored Appalachian children in the foster care system.
— Amber L Adams (@THEamberadams) February 18, 2017
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