While the Reagan administration appears to have abandoned its goal of abolishing the Education Department, its $15.5 billion budget for the department in fiscal 1986 would dramatically scale back the federal role in education and shift more of the burden to the states.
The administration has proposed capping total federal aid to an individual student at $4,000 a year. Students whose parents earn more than $25,000 a year could not qualify for grants, direct loans or work-study jobs, while students whose parents earn more than $32,500 could not qualify for federally guaranteed loans.
When asked at a briefing last week where students would be able to turn for aid, Gary L. Jones, then acting secretary, replied: "They've always had the money at home. Their parents have chosen to buy a car or make some other kind of investment."
He suggested that more students will have to seek state aid or take summer jobs.
He added, "To presume that students can't go to college because of these budget proposals is a little bit presumptuous."
In an effort to emphasize "family responsibility" for financing a student's education, the administration is also proposing that, in general, students under the age of 22 be considered to be dependent on their parents and that all students be required to contribute at least $800 toward their education before they could qualify for federal aid.
By Jones' estimate, about 1 million students receiving federal aid would no longer be eligible.
Still, he said, total college enrollment should not be affected, although there might be some shift from expensive private schools to the cheaper public institutions.
The proposals have generated criticism, with univeristy groups contending that the cuts are unfair to the middle class and to families with several college-aged students.
The administration, however, also would cut federal aid to the children of migrant workers, to some disadvantaged students and to the "magnet" schools that are designed to promote voluntary desegregation.
Centers that provide education to the deaf and blind would lose $3 million, for a fiscal 1986 level of $12 million, with states expected to make up the difference.
A program that provided law school training for disadvantaged students also would be abolished under the administration's proposals.
Bilingual education programs would receive the same amount as they will this year -- $143 million -- despite an expected increase of 20,000 students needing English training.
Savings are expected to come by training fewer bilingual education teachers, so more of the money can be spent on students.
Also, the administration wants to give local school districts more flexibility in crafting their bilingual education programs.
The $125 million public library program would be eliminated. The administration said "full responsibility for these state-sponsored programs should now be assumed by state and local governments . . . . "