President Donald Trump gives the State of the Union address from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 30.
President Donald Trump gives the State of the Union address from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 30.

President Donald Trump is sniffing through the highways and byways searching for excesses that are eating away at the nation’s budget in an attempt to cure an excessive deficit plaguing the U.S. economy. It’s what any right-minded, spending-conscious person should do when outgoes exceed their income. But in reality, the American public believes Trump is trying to justify giving tax cuts to the nation’s wealthiest off of the backs of the nation’s poorest, which requires that every person impacted stands up to him to say, “Hands off; no, this won’t happen!”

His hunt for federal expenditures, particularly in the case of the DC Tuition Assistance Grant program, has him barking up the wrong tree in Washington, D.C. It is an essential and celebrated program, especially among D.C. tax-paying parents, that provides their students with the opportunity to attend out-of-state public colleges and universities at in-state tuition costs. Grants also help to supplement tuition costs at four-year private HBCUs nationwide, and in the DMV.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced D.C.TAG legislation in 1999. She, along with former Representatives Tom Davis and Constance Morella, both Republicans, from Virginia and Maryland, respectively, recognized the threats facing UDC, the District’s only state college that was threatened to close. D.C. students were looking elsewhere but at a tuition rate higher than their peers. A growing disparity in college attendance demanded attention, leading Congress to step in with funding for the program. Since 2000, more than 30,000 D.C. students, reportedly, have received $350 million in tuition assistance to attend 578 colleges that participate in the program.

While Congresswoman Norton is presently negotiating funding at the current level of $40 million, Trump is going against his predecessors to slice the program from the federal budget with the expectation that the District will continue to fund it. There is no doubt the District’s coffers are much healthier than in 1999 but the time is not now to gouge federal support for a program that keeps on giving. While DCTAG generously supports students from the District to attend college, especially from Wards 5, 7 and 8 where there’s the greatest use, it is not keeping pace with the rising tuition costs in the U.S. But those who receive DCTAG and complete college, more often land jobs that offer higher incomes which, in turn, allows them to give back to the economy through taxes and skills. Why Trump can’t appreciate this is difficult to fathom.

But then again, that’s Trump.

We encourage all D.C. residents, especially DCTAG recipients, to sign Mayor Muriel Bowser’s petition to #SaveDCTAG today!

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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