Should DC Pick up the Tab for TAG?

by Nena Perry-Brown

This week, Donald Trump put forth a proposed budget which, among other things, omits funding for the DC Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program. 

TAG was established in 1999 to bridge the gap between in-state and out-of-state college tuition for students who are DC residents, awarding up to $10,000 in tuition assistance per academic year. Students could also receive up to $2,500 pa year to pay for private universities in the DC area, historically Black colleges and universities nationwide, or community colleges. While TAG was initially intended as a 10-year initiative, it has received funding in every fiscal year after 2009 and it has also been included in budget drafts from presidents and Congress each year. 

Should DC Pick up the Tab for TAG?: Figure 1
Tuition Assistance Grant recipients by school year

A recent post by DC Policy Center explores TAG's importance and what the District could do if the program got the axe.

In the 18 years of TAG, 26,000 students have benefited. An analysis of the school years starting in 2011 and ending in 2016 shows that, across the 25 universities most popular among TAG recipients, the grants covered up to one-third of the cost of tuition. During that same timeframe, 11,700 students were awarded TAG monies, and 44 percent of those students were from families with incomes under $30,000.

Clearly, loss of this program would have a major impact on how DC students calculate the cost of college. However, while the District is fiscally solvent and has a budget surplus that could theoretically foot the $40 million bill to cover TAG in the upcoming school year, should the city make that commitment?

"This money would come at the expense of other programs that could benefit the most vulnerable residents, or programs that are necessary to keep the city vibrant," Yesim Taylor of DCPC pointed out to UrbanTurf. "This fiscal year, the city must find money for the Metro at a minimum, but there are many other pressures."

And that's just in the short-term; there are also long-term considerations that could sway how the city government proceeds on the matter. "The moment the District decides to replace DC TAG with a local program, the federal program will likely be lost forever," Taylor continues. "It is in the city’s best interest to put as much pressure on the Congress as possible to have the program restored."

It remains to be seen whether any of the requested cuts will be honored by Congress as funds are appropriated for the next fiscal year.

See other articles related to: schools, federal government, college students, budget

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/should-dc-pick-up-the-tab-for-tag/13574

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