NAICU Washington Update

House Appropriators Provide Increases Across Higher Education

July 15, 2021

The House Committee on Appropriations approved the FY 2022 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill this week, providing substantial increases across all higher education programs. 

The bill meets or exceeds President Biden’s request for student aid funding. For the Pell Grant program, the bill includes $24.725 billion, a funding increase of $2.25 billion. This amount provides for an appropriated increase of $400 for the maximum grant, raising it to $6,845 for 2022-23, as requested in the president’s budget. The president’s American Families Plan proposes an additional $1,475 in mandatory funding to further increase the Pell Grant maximum to $8,370, which will require the passage of additional legislation. 

For the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study programs, the bill exceeds the level funding requested by the president, providing $1.028 billion for SEOG, an increase of $148 million, and $1.434 billion for FWS, an increase of $244 million. The bill also provides additional increases for Title VI International Education of $93 million and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need of $25.5 million.  

The bill meets the president’s requests for TRIO ($1.297 billion) and GEAR UP ($408 million), Teacher Quality Partnership Grants ($132 million), and all of the Strengthening Institutions Programs across all minority-serving institutions ($1.134 billion). 

Specific legislative language is included in the bill to make DACA students eligible for federal financial aid and to reinstate the 85/15 provision that applies to for-profit institutions’ receipt of federal aid from their students. 

Report language, which is often used to communicate the intent of the committee, highlights several issues of interest to colleges, including: 
  • A request for the Department of Education to brief the committee on its work with institutions to improve college cost transparency.
  • A request for next year’s budget to include a review of the financial sustainability and well-being of women’s colleges and universities.
  • An $8 million pilot program to meet college students’ basic needs, including food, housing, health, and child care. 
In addition to education, the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill provides funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The bill includes $49 billion for NIH, which is a $6.5 billion increase over last year’s funding level. This increase provides for $3 billion to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer; and an increase of $3.5 billion for existing NIH institutes and centers. 

While the House is on a fast track to write, and possibly pass, all of its 12 funding bills before the August recess, the Senate has not indicated what its process will be for FY 2022 appropriations. If action does not start in the Senate before August, Congress will most likely need additional time this fall to complete the funding bills. 

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