The Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing at Bowie State University. Bowie State gets dozens of students through the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program each year. (Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post)

In his recently released federal budget proposal, President Trump called for the elimination of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program, which expands higher education choices for college-bound D.C. residents. I condemn this proposal as baseless, callous and contrary to everything the District stands for. Eliminating this critical program would slam the door in the faces of our young people seeking a higher education and a brighter future. We cannot allow DCTAG to be shuttered. I call upon all D.C. residents to join me, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) in protecting the dreams of our young people by speaking out against yet another Trump administration attack on the District.

DCTAG was created by Congress in 1999 to make higher education more accessible and affordable for District residents. It provides grants of up to $10,000 toward the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities throughout the United States. It also provides up to $2,500 per academic year toward tuition at private colleges in this area and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nationwide.

DCTAG has been extremely effective at ensuring D.C. students have the same access to university systems that other students across the country enjoy. Since its inception, DCTAG has helped 26,000 District students enroll in college. About 4,500 students are enrolled now, and an additional 4,000 students will apply for DCTAG this year alone.

We live in a knowledge-based economy in which a higher education is increasingly the only sustainable pathway to the middle class. Global competition continually gets fiercer, and student debt weighs heavy on the minds of millions. It is unconscionable that Trump would consider pulling the rug out from under thousands of ambitious young Washingtonians who are enrolled in college because of DCTAG.

This program embodies the values of the District itself, where we believe that regardless of your socio-economic status, you should have the opportunity to get an education that prepares you for the life you want to live. DCTAG is an irreplaceable part of our government’s commitment to that belief. This commitment must remain ironclad. I will work closely with Norton and Bowser to ensure that full funding for DCTAG remains a part of the federal budget.

Brandon T. Todd, a Democrat, represents Ward 4 on the D.C. Council.