Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) made the following statement on the District of Columbia Council's decision to decline to fund D.C. Promise, a new college access program, in its fiscal year 2015 budget, considering that the federal government already fully funds a unique college access program for D.C. residents, the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program.
"The Council's budget, like the Mayor's budget, demonstrates that the city does not have the financial capacity to continually fund a significant college scholarship program, like D.C. Promise or DCTAG. Our fight in Congress to save DCTAG from total or partial defunding for the 5,000 students attending college in D.C. and across the country is by no means over. But DCTAG took a punch when the Council passed the Promise bill, despite warnings from Congress that it could risk DCTAG funding. The Council's action not to fund Promise, however, sends a clear message to congressional appropriators that the need for DCTAG funding remains, and is a positive step for our fight to continue to fund every D.C. student who has applied for DCTAG."
Norton's memo to the D.C. Council and Mayor Gray relaying the warnings from congressional appropriators that the Promise bill could threaten the future of DCTAG funding can be viewed online at http://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/norton-alerts-dc-residents-and-council-to-risk-of-dc-promise-bill.
DCTAG, which Norton got enacted in 1999, provides up to $10,000 annually toward the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public four-year colleges and universities, and up to $2,500 annually toward tuition at private colleges in the D.C. region, Historically Black Colleges and Universities nationwide, and two-year colleges. DCTAG has doubled college attendance among students from the District, and is considered by many experts to be the most important workforce development program in the city. Every Republican and Democratic President has supported, and most often increased, DCTAG funding since it was enacted in 1999. Twenty thousand students have been educated with DCTAG funding since its inception, and 5,000 D.C. students are attending college today with DCTAG, two-thirds of whom are from low-income families. The number of students applying for DCTAG has increased every year, yet no eligible student has ever been denied funding to attend a DCTAG-eligible institution. President Obama's fiscal year 2015 budget proposes the highest appropriation ever for DCTAG, $40 million, a $10 million increase over the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.