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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Education Funding for FY 2012

September 21, 2011


​The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved an FY 2012 spending plan for the Department of Education that would maintain the maximum Pell Grant award as well as preserve FY 2011 funding levels for Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, the Federal Work-Study Program and the TRIO Programs.

The appropriations bill, which was finalized yesterday by the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, would allocate a total of $68.4 billion for the Department of Education for FY 2012, an $80 million increase from 2011. It also includes $30.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a cut of $190 million from FY 2011.

Despite the additional $17 billion provided for the Pell Grant Program in the debt ceiling bill approved in August, an additional $1.3 billion is still needed to maintain a maximum grant of $5,550 for the 2012-13 academic year. The Senate bill approved today would make up the difference by ending the government interest subsidy for undergraduate borrowers during the six-month grace period after they leave school.

As Inside Higher Ed pointed out this morning, this is the latest program to fall in an effort to maintain Pell funding—also sacrificed have been year-round Pell Grants, graduate loan subsidies, and on-time repayment incentives for undergraduate borrowers.

Prospects for the Senate measure—as well as the other FY 2012 appropriations bills—are uncertain. The House has approved six of the 12 bills needed, but the Senate has not considered any of the measures passed by the House. The House Appropriations Committee has already cancelled markups on the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, and it is widely believed that there will not be any further effort to move that bill through the House.

A continuing resolution (CR) which would have kept the government funded through Nov. 18 was defeated today in the House by a vote of 195-230. Democrats who objected to cuts included to offset the $3.7 billion in disaster relief in the bill joined with Tea Party Republicans—who wanted deeper cuts—to block the measure.

Some form of a CR will be needed to keep the government running after Sept. 30, the end of FY 2011. Under the terms of the rejected CR, funding through Nov. 18 would have continued at a rate of $1.043 trillion (a 1.4 percent cut from FY 2011 levels), the total amount to which Congress and the White House agreed in the debt ceiling legislation.

Also see:

Senate Panel Approves Lean Spending Bill for Higher Education and Research
The Chronicle of Higher Education

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