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The President’s Budget Defunds Department of Education, Humanities, State Department

Dear Colleagues,

Today, President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request. As in the past three years, it would cut or eliminate virtually all of our programs. And, as in every year, the President proposes, but the Congress disposes. It is the Constitutional responsibility of the Congress to appropriate money for the government to spend.

As in every year, the President proposes, but the Congress disposes.

That being said, we should all be aware of what exactly President Trump has put forward.


For the US Department of Education, the overall budget request is $66.6 billion, which is $6.1 billion below the current level, a reduction of 8.4%.

  • In Elementary and Secondary Education, almost all of the formula-based grants to the States would be consolidated into a single, state block grant program, the “Elementary and Secondary Education for the Disadvantaged Block Grant (ESED Block Grant).” JNCL-NCLIS advocates for Title II (Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants), Title III (English Language Acquisition), and Title IV, Part A (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants). These three programs, and 25 others, would be consolidated into a single program. The 2020 funding levels for all 27 programs is $24.05 billion; the President proposes 19.36 billion, a reduction of $4.692 billion, a reduction of 19.5% overall.

  • In Higher Education, Title II (Teacher Quality Partnerships Program) would be eliminated, and states directed to use the ESED block grant funding. Title VI and Fulbright-Hays would also be eliminated, as the Trump Administration continues to claim that these programs are duplicative of other programs in the Departments of Defense and State.

  • The Institute for Education Sciences (IES) would receive $565.4 million under the President’s budget, a decrease of $58 million (-9.3%.) IES continues to fund a small number of high-impact research projects on the outcomes of language education.


For the US Department of State, the overall budget request is $40.8 billion, a reduction of $15 billion (a 25% decrease) from the current level.

  • The bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs would be reduced to $310m, a decrease of $420.7m, or 56%. As of this writing, we do not have sufficient detail to determine whether the Congress-Bundestag Exchange Program or the Title VIII Program for Research in the Former Soviet States have been proposed for elimination. The Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Program, funded in 2020 at $5m, is slated for elimination.

  • For the Department of Defense, the President has requested $705.4 billion, an increase of $800 million over last year. At present we do not have sufficient detail to determine the President’s requests for the Defense Language National Security Education Program, StarTalk, or the Defense Language Institute. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is slated to receive $800 million, a reduction of $150 million (-15.8%). DARPA funds a significant number of research projects in computational linguistics and related fields.

National Endowment for the Humanities

The President’s budget calls for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds programs in the documentation and preservation of Native American Languages (with the National Science Foundation) as well as programs to globalize community colleges.

National Science Foundation

The President’s budget calls for a reduction of $631 million, or 7.4%, to the budget of the National Science Foundation, with a Fiscal Year 2021 request of $7.948 billion. NSF funds basic research in several fields of linguistics as well as the joint program with NEH on Documenting Endangered Languages.

Native American Language and Community Programs

In the Department of Health and Human Services, the Esther Martinez Program, Native Language Preservation and Maintenance Program, and the Native Language Community Coordination Program would be level-funded at $13.5 million.

We will continue to analyze the detailed budget tables as agencies publish them.

It is very important, however, that we all recognize that this budget is what President Trump proposes. The Congress will have the final say, and we are in close contact with all of the key offices for each of our programs. You will be asked to advocate this spring to support funding for all of these programs. Stay tuned!

With Best Wishes,

Dr. Bill Rivers

Executive Director

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