Congress Approves Final FY 2020 Spending Package
December 20, 2019

Congress this week approved a final FY 2020 $1.4 trillion spending package, several months after the start of the fiscal year, that includes a strong increase for student financial aid and a robust hike in spending on science and medical research.

The legislation allocates $72.8 billion to the Department of Education—$1.3 billion above the 2019 level and $8.7 billion above what President Trump requested. It includes an increase of $150 to the maximum Pell Grant award, to $6,345, and boosts funding for the National Institutes of Health by $2.6 billion, a 6.5 percent hike, and for the National Science Foundation by $203 million, a 2.5 percent increase.

Inside Higher Ed detailed a number of the specific program increases, including:

  • $865 million for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, an increase of $25 million;

  • $1.2 billion for Federal Work-Study, an increase of $50 million;

  • $1.1 billion for federal TRIO programs, an increase of $30 million; and

  • $365 million for GEAR UP, an increase of $5 million.

The final agreement reached between congressional Republicans and Democrats does not reach the level of spending for higher education approved by the House, but does go beyond Senate-passed amounts.

As ACE Director of Government Relations Jon Fansmith told Inside Higher Ed, the bill is still a solid victory for higher education. “These are good increases," he said. “Everything got something."

The president is expected to sign the measure, although it contained less than $1.4 billion for his border wall, compared with the $8.6 billion he had requested. This funding had been the major sticking point holding up the resolution of the spending measures.