- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2019

Congress has included $40 million for the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program in its appropriations bills, despite the Trump administration having erased the program in its budget proposal.

“I am grateful to our Democratic House and Senate appropriators and leadership, who were able to maintain our D.C. priorities in the bill, even though our members were in the minority when the bill was negotiated last year,” D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in Congress, said Thursday in a press release.

First funded in 2000, the program — known as DCTAG — provides grants of up to $10,000 to qualified college-bound city students to attend universities anywhere in the nation.

D.C. officials have estimated that about 26,000 students have used the program since its inception.

Congress founded the program to provide options for D.C. students and to address the city’s lack of “state” school. The University of the District of Columbia is seen as the only “state” school in the nation’s capital.

Ms. Norton noted that the DCTAG legislation will reduce the family income threshold for qualified applicants, from $796,000 to $500,000, saying she will try to reinstate the current threshold next year.

The Trump administration had zeroed out funding for the program in its budget proposal last year, citing a “lack of clear federal role for supporting the cost of higher education specifically for District residents.”

City leaders and parents spoke out against the administration plan and created a petition to oppose the defunding of the DCTAG program.

According to a 2018 Government Accountability Office study, 19 percent of DCTAG recipients between 2007 and 2016 hailed from Ward 7 and 16 percent from Ward 8, two of the District’s poorest jurisdictions.

Likewise, 7 percent were from Ward 1, 3 percent from Ward 2, 9 percent from Ward 3, 20 percent from Ward 4, 17 percent from Ward 5 and 9 percent from Ward 6.

Ms. Norton noted that the D.C. appropriations bill also provides:

$8 million for the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.

$3 million to fight HIV/AIDS

$435,000 for the D.C. National Guard Retention and College Access Program, which gives tuition grants to members of the city’s National Guard.

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