Obama’s FY16 Budget: What Does it Mean for Duke?

The Administration released its nearly $4 trillion budget for FY 2016 on February 2, 2015.  The plan would end sequestration and raise discretionary budget caps put in place in 2011, resulting in $1.091 trillion in proposed discretionary spending and a slew of new programs and initiatives.

The $74 billion, or 7%, increase in discretionary spending is offset by various budget cuts and raising taxes in such areas as capital gains and corporate offshore profits. The overall plan has been declared “dead on arrival” by the Republican-controlled Congress, but there are smaller pieces within that could garner bipartisan support.

In terms of overall research and development, the budget provides a 6 percent increase for R&D, including increases in basic research.  The budget prioritizes investments in biomedical research—like the BRAIN and the new Precision Medicine initiatives — and advanced manufacturing technology.  Agricultural research, clean energy, and climate resilience and sustainability research are also emphasized.

Among the President’s already announced spending priorities, the budget proposes to make two years of community college education free, consolidate education tax breaks, and expand eligibility for Pell Grants.

Below are highlights of the top line budget levels for Duke-specific funding priorities.  For questions, please contact the Office of Federal Relations.

National Institutes of Health:

The FY 16 budget proposes $31.3 billion for NIH, a 4% increase over FY 15.  This increase will help provide additional resources for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and the BRAIN initiative. The budget also includes  $215 million for the new Precision Medicine Initiative. NIH estimates this will support 35,447 grants, including approximately 1,200 more new and competing grants than the previous year.

NIH also continues to stress the importance of workforce sustainability and diversity, as well as its big data initiative.

National Science Foundation:

The FY 16 budget proposes a $7.72 billion for NSF, a 5.1% increase over FY 15.

Department of Defense Basic Research:

The FY16 budget would increase funding for the broad Defense category of research, development, testing & evaluation (RDT&E) by $6.3 billion to $69.9 billion. It proposes to fund Defense science and technology (S&T) at $12.3 billion, an
increase of $251 million, or 2.1 percent.
Within the S&T total, however, funding for basic research and advanced technology development would be reduced. Specifically, basic research (6.1) would receive $2.088 billion, a cut of $189 million, or 8.3 percent.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) would receive $2.9 billion, an increase of $56 million, or about 1.9%.

Department of Energy Office of Science:

The Administration proposes $5.34 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, a 5.3% increase over the FY 15 omnibus.  This includes $325 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), an increase of $45 million, or 16%.


The FY 16 budget request for NASA is $18.5 billion, a 2.9% increase over FY 15.  Within the request, the Science Directorate would receive $5.29 billion, and Earth Science would receive $1.9 billion.

Department of Homeland Security:

The Administration proposes $778.9 million for the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, a 27% cut from the FY 15 request (NOTE:  DHS does not have a final FY 15 budget and is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution.)

National Endowment for the Humanities:

The budget recommends $147.9 million for NEH, a $1.9 million increase over FY 15.

The total includes $104 million for the Endowment’s grant programs; $5.5 million for NEH Chairman Adams’ special initiative – The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square – in support of projects that demonstrate the role the humanities can play in public life; and $10.9 million in federal matching funds. The latter includes funding for the NEH Challenge Grants program to help stimulate and match private donations in support of humanities institutions and organizations.

Pell Grants:

The Administration proposes an inflationary increase in FY 16 for the Pell Grant Maximum Award to $5,915.

The budget would also strengthen academic progress requirements in the Pell Grant program, and provide a College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus to successful schools.

International Education/Title VI programs:

The budget proposes $76.2 million for International Education programs in FY 16.  This is a $4 million increase over the FY 15 omnibus.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education:

The Administration proposes to spend $3 billion in STEM education programs across the government in FY16.  This includes $202 millions for the Department of Education’s K-12 Math and Science Partnerships and $135 million for undergraduate education at the NSF.

Other Student Aid Programs:

The Administration’s budget also proposes to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, eliminating up to 30 questions. For increased accountability in administering Title IV federal student aid, the budget proposes to include Department of Defense tuition assistance and Department of Veterans Affairs GI bill benefits in the 90/10 calculation for participating institutions.
As in the past two years, the budget proposes to create a new unsubsidized Perkins Loan program.
The budget would extend the availability of the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) repayment plan to all student borrowers, which caps student loan payments at 10 percent of monthly discretionary income.
The full budget is available on the Office of Management and Budget website.

To learn more about the budget reconciliation process, click here.

For status of FY16 higher ed funding priorities, click here.