News broke like wildfire yesterday that President Trump’s most recent fiscal 2019 federal budget submission includes in it the elimination of DCTAG. Here’s a description of the scholarship plan by the Washington Post’s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel:
“Through the tuition program, tens of thousands of students have received $350 million to enroll at 578 colleges. Students can receive as much as $10,000 a year to attend public universities outside the city, or up to $2,500 to enroll in a private college in the D.C. metro area or at any historically black college or university across the nation.
The grants are available to all District students — except high-income families — but student advocates say the money makes the biggest difference for low-income residents. The annual family income cap has shifted in recent years; it once was $1 million but, in more recent years, has stood between $750,000 and $777,000.”
DCTAG was the brainchild of Northern Virginia Congressman Tom Davis, who believed that there were not enough high quality options for state colleges for children living in the District. My wife and I helped Mr. David become elected to Congress in 1994, running his campaign in Reston. The program costs the American taxpayer $40 million a year. The Trump Administration, according to the Post’s article, made the proposal “because of a lack of a clear federal role for supporting the cost of higher education specifically for District residents.” Ms. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel states that 26,000 students have taken advantage of the scholarships.
A school choice advocate close to the Administration explained to me yesterday that DCTAG is in no jeopardy of being shutdown. He points to the words of U.S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, again from the Post article:
“Norton said in a statement that the two-year budget deal reached last week preempts the White House budget, rendering it ‘dead on arrival.’ The District’s only representative in Congress said she wants to assure D.C. parents and students that she does not believe they are in danger of losing funding for the tuition assistance program.”
Interestingly, even the CATO Institute’s director of educational freedom Neal McCluskey finds the move strange. “It strikes me as an odd candidate to target for elimination,” he comments to the Post. “Surely there are targets far more ripe for elimination.”
Mayor Bowser was incensed. She wrote on Twitter: “
#DidYouKnow that the college education of thousands of DC students is at risk? President Trump has completely eliminated the DC Tuition Assistance Grant program in his 2019 budget proposal. Urge Congress to reject Trump’s proposal. #SaveDCTAG today: http://SaveDCTAG.DC.Gov “
A petition has been started to protect the program which has been signed by D.C. Council education committee chair David Grosso, and he has encouraged others to follow his lead. My question is why is the Councilmember so upset about DCTAG when he fought so strongly against Congressional renewal of the Opportunity Scholarship Program?