NAICU Washington Update

President Biden’s American Families Plan Increases Pell

April 30, 2021

Marking 100 days in office, President Biden has released his American Families Plan, which calls for a $1,400 increase in the Pell Grant maximum, on top of the $400 increase already proposed in the skinny budget, for a total of $1,800 this year. 

Raising the maximum grant from $6,495 to $8,295 is presented as a first step toward doubling the grant to $13,000. At $85 billion, Biden’s plan touts the increases as part of a “comprehensive plan to double the Pell Grant maximum.” 

The American Families Plan includes additional proposals for higher education, including:
  • $109 billion to provide free community college for all, including “Dreamer” students;
  • $62 billion for a federal-state partnership for community college student retention and completion; 
  • $46 billion for two years of subsidized tuition at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions, including private, nonprofit institutions, for families with incomes under $125,000, and additional institutional aid and funding for graduate programs in health care at these institutions; and 
  • $9 billion for teacher training, including expanding the TEACH Grant program, funding “Grow Your Own” residency programs, and targeted funding to states for high demand certificate upgrades. 
It is important to note that the American Families Plan touts “free four years of public education,” which does not refer to “free public 4-year college.” The Administration has altered the spin on this phrase to refer to “free two years of pre-school” plus “free two years of community college,” expanding education at both the early childhood and higher education ends of the education continuum. 

Between the American Jobs Plan for infrastructure and the American Families Plan, President Biden has proposed trillions of dollars in government spending in his first 100 days.  It will take Congress many months to turn the proposals into legislation. It will take even longer to negotiate packages that can garner bipartisan support to pass the Senate. 

Congress is considering using the budget reconciliation process to move both of these packages, but that process has not yet started. Once the president’s full FY 2022 budget is submitted to Congress in late May, legislators will be able to plan their next steps. Crafting a budget resolution that incorporates reconciliation instructions to committees to write legislation reflecting these proposals will be the first step. 

When the education committees get their instructions, it will be critical for NAICU member presidents to advocate for equitable treatment of private, nonprofit colleges and their students in the higher education proposals that Congress prioritizes. 

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