House Approves Spending Package That Includes Substantial Increases for Student Aid, Research
Published: June 19, 2019

​After a marathon session of debate that spanned a full week, the House of Representatives today passed a $982.8 billion minibus spending package that appropriates funding for four separate FY 2020 spending bills, including the one for Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education. The measure would increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $150 and boost funding for the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion, among the overall increases for student aid, higher education programs, and research.  

The Labor-HHS-Education portion of the bill, which is substantially the same as the version approved by the House Committee on Appropriations in early May, allocates $75.9 billion to the Department of Education, with $24.9 billion for student aid programs ($492 million above FY 2019) and $2.7 billion for higher education programs ($431 million above FY 2019).

On behalf of 31 other higher education associations, ACE President Ted Mitchell sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in support of the measure Wednesday morning.

“The funding allocated in these combined bills would provide needed investments in student financial aid, scientific research, institutional support and workforce training,” Mitchell wrote. “Many of the programs covered in this bill have been cut or funded at levels below inflation over the last decade.”

The higher education provisions in the bill include:

  • $6,345 for the maximum Pell Grant, an increase of $150 above FY 2019 and President Trump’s budget request.
  • $1 billion for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, an increase of $188 million above FY 2019. The president’s budget request proposes to eliminate this program.
  • $1.4 billion for Federal Work Study, an increase of $304 million above FY 2019 and $934 million above the president’s request.
  • $41.1 billion for NIH, an increase of $2 billion above FY 2019 and $6.9 billion above the president’s request.
  • $375 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, an increase of $93 million above both the FY 2019 level and the president’s request.
  • $150 million for Hispanic Serving Institutions, an increase of $26 million above FY 2019. The president’s budget proposes to consolidate this and other Minority Serving Institution programs into a single grant program.
  • $1.1 billion for federal TRIO programs, an increase of $100 million above FY 2019 and $210 million above the president’s request.
  • $395 million for GEAR UP, an increase of $35 million above FY 2019. The president’s budget proposes to consolidate the program into the TRIO programs.
  • $10 million to restart the Centers of Excellence for Veterans Student Success Program.

As Politico reported earlier this week, a few education amendments were approved during the debate, including one aimed at preventing the Education Department from limiting the functions of the Office for Civil Rights and another that would increase funding by $4 million to the department’s Office of Inspector General.

Democrats and Republicans remain divided about how much money to give toward the president’s border wall, the central sticking point in the December 2018-January 2019 government shutdown. The bill includes language protecting against “misappropriation of Defense funds for a border wall,” so that divide is still very much alive.

The White House issued a veto threat​ on the measure last week.