Biden Budget Requests Increase in Pell Grants and More Funding for HBCUs, Renews Call for Free Community College
March 13, 2023

​President Biden released his budget request for FY 2024 last week, which includes $90 billion in discretionary funding for programs at the Department of Education.

Most notably, the budget contains a request for an $820 increase in the Pell Grant award, which would take the maximum grant from $7,395 to $8,215 in 2024-25. The request reiterates that the administration’s goal is to double the maximum Pell award by FY 2029, though funding at the levels requested are not sufficient to meet that goal.

Other student aid programs, such as Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants and Federal Work Study, were level-funded, remaining below what is needed.

The budget also includes a total of $1.042 billion to help address funding inequities at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority serving and low-resourced institutions, including community colleges, an increase of $103.4 million over FY 2023. In addition, it calls for two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in four-year HBCUs and minority serving institutions.

The president continues to call for free community college, this time via a request for $500 million to fund a new discretionary grant program to provide two years of free community college for students enrolled in high-quality programs that lead to a four-year degree or a good-paying job, according to the budget documents.

On the research side, the administration is requesting $48.2 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an $811 million increase over FY 2023. This includes $2.5 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health within NIH. The budget asks for $11.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, a $1.4 billion increase over FY 2023, including $8.6 million for research and education.

As was widely reported, the president’s budget—always more a statement of administrative priorities than something likely to be enacted—is even more so this year given the groundwork that House Republicans have laid on federal funding. The actual funding for each federal agency comes in the form of 12 appropriations bills drafted and approved by Congress—ideally by the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30, though that has not happened lately—and the president’s request has no binding authority on that process.

Jon Fansmith, ACE senior vice president for government relations, told Inside Higher Ed after the budget was unveiled that the association was pleased by the many financial aid, research and institutional support programs.

“While there are some areas of the budget request that we are concerned do not address the funding needs of the programs, we will continue to work with the administration and Congress to remedy that through the appropriations process,” he said.

A Brief Guide to the Federal Budget and Appropriations Process

Read More