A Republican spending bill passed by the House of Representatives on Saturday would reduce federal funding to the UC system.
The proposed legislation would cut $704 million in financial aid for the state — impacting the nearly one-third of all UC undergraduate students who receive Pell Grants — and reduce federal investment in research. According to a statement issued by 23rd District Representative Lois Capps on Wednesday, the spending plan would put 14,500 federally-supported UC research jobs at risk, cut the maximum Pell Grant award by $845 per student and slash the average federal contribution to Pell Grants by $675 per student.
Ashley Schapitl, Congresswoman Capps’ press secretary, said federal funding for financial aid is essential to maintain higher education standards.
“In addition to the impact in terms of jobs, the Congresswoman also thinks that this is a time when if we want to compete in the global economy then we should be spending more money on research to continue to out-innovate our global competitors,” Schapitl said.
Last year, the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health and the Department of Energy awarded UCSB $160 million in federal funding. However, the Republican spending plan would cut over $826 million from the National Science Foundation and $2.5 billion from the National Institute of Health, limiting the ability of these organizations to fund future research.
“Being at the forefront of research and development and new technological advances is what fueled our economic growth in the past century and [Congresswoman Capps] thinks that is what is going to continue to fuel economic growth in the next century,” Schapitl said. “While we need to be looking at ways to reduce spending it should not be coming out of research and development along the areas that will contribute to economic growth.”
Melissa Maher, a third-year microbiology major at UCSB, said the federal reductions would make some students unable to pay tuition.
“If these cuts were to happen, there would be thousands of students from all UC campuses who would find themselves in a very tough place financially,” Maher said. “It would be a really sad thing because so many students really need financial help and many would probably have to drop out because they just could not afford to go to school.”
Maia Colyar, a third-year chemistry major working for UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, said the cuts severely threaten the state’s competitiveness.
“The UC’s would lose a lot of funding for research and slow down progress — California is currently at the cutting edge in many research areas but this could be lost if labs are forced to downsize due to lack of resources,” Colyar said. “Medical, environmental and technical revolutions would be greatly hindered.”