On February 10, the Trump Administration released its funding proposal for fiscal year 2021: “A Budget for America’s Future.” At a time of growing health workforce shortages and rising higher education costs, the draconian cuts proposed by the Administration would pose a significant threat to the ability of PA programs to provide a high-quality education to their students and to serve as a critical health workforce pipeline.
PAEA is particularly disappointed in the Administration’s continued desire to eliminate both Public Service Loan Forgiveness and most Title VII programs, designed to improve the supply, distribution, and diversity of the nation’s health workforce. While Congress has appropriately rejected these cuts and instead provided substantial Title VII increases in recent years, PAEA continues to urge the Administration to abandon its efforts to eliminate federal investments in clinical training experiences, curriculum development, and loan forgiveness opportunities that ultimately improve the care delivered to patients.
In addition to recurrent annual proposals to eliminate Title VII funding, the Administration’s budget also proposes new policies that would increase out-of-pocket costs and eliminate key protections for students. Specifically, the budget would restrict access to federal funding under the Grad PLUS Loan program — a critical resource for PA students given long-standing borrowing disparities under the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program. According to data from PAEA’s Student Report 3, the annual and aggregate Grad PLUS caps proposed by the Administration could force nearly 20 percent of PA students into the private loan market with fewer repayment protections and options for loan forgiveness. PAEA is strongly opposed to instituting additional restrictions on Grad PLUS loans and urges the Administration to address key cost drivers in health professions education, such as payment for clinical rotations, rather than targeting student access to federal financing options.
As the appropriations process for fiscal year 2021 moves forward, PAEA urges Congress to once again reject the Trump Administration’s budget and instead to prioritize the investments necessary to prepare a well-trained health workforce for all Americans.