Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Financial Aid
Advance warnings of President Reagan's budget proposal, which includes sharp cuts in student aid, have prompted strong lobbying efforts and other action by the University.
Harvard is also investigating alternatives ranging from increasing tuition to dropping its need-blind admission policy if Congress approves the cuts.
Director of Financial Aids James S. Miller yesterday called the cuts, which include eliminating Guaranteed Student Loans (GSLs) for students whose family income is more than $32,500, the severest he has ever heard of.
Cap on Grants
Other proposals of special concern would reduce Pell grant eligibility and cap total federal grants and loans for each student at $2000, Miller added.
Most of the more than 4000 Harvard undergraduates now on GSLs and a majority of the almost 900 students receiving Pell grants would be disqualified from the program under the proposals, said Miller.
Officials and lobbyists said yesterday that while Congress will almost certainly moderate the Administration's plan, the budget poses a serious threat to the University.
The federal government currently gives approximately $15 million a year to undergraduates here, and the Reagan administration's plan would cut that amount by 50 percent, Miller estimates.
Although Miller said keeping Harvard admissions open to all regardless of financial need is "of paramount importance," he added the University is considering the possibility of abandoning that policy.
More likely solutions would include some combination of increased tuition and University loans to students and parents, Miller said.
Harvard has joined hundreds of private and public institutions across the country in loudly opposing the new budget.
Charles B. Saunders, vice-president of the American Council on Education, an umbrella organization which lobbies for member colleges and universities, said Congress will probably be more receptive to the Reagan proposals than it was two years ago when it rejected all of the proposed 50 percent reductions in student aid.
Saunders said political pressure to reduce the deficit has intensified since 1983, but added that he still feels Congress will probably reject most of the cuts. "It depends on how well we do our work," he said.
The Senate has already began debating general spending ceilings, but little will be resolved before the summer, according to Saunders.
Although it is too early to tell, the cuts "will probably not go through in their original form," said Nan F. Nixon,-Harvard's chief Capitol Hill lobbyist.
The chairmen of both the Senate and the House subcommittees responsible for the budget will oppose the cuts as they stand, Nixon said, adding that Harvard will still continue to watch the debate carefully.
In addition to alarm over possibly decreased appropriations, officials expressed concern about the expiration of the Higher Education Act's expiration this September.