House and Senate Far Apart on Education Funding for Fiscal Year That Begins Oct. 1
August 07, 2023

​The Senate Committee on Appropriations voted 26 to 2 July 27 to approve the FY 2024 Labor-HHS-Education bill, increasing discretionary funds for the Department of Education by about $370 million over the current fiscal year to $79.6 billion. This total is at least $12 billion more than the House bill, as Inside Higher Ed reported.

The Senate bill would increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $250 (from $7,395 to $7,645) for the 2024-25 academic year and would level-fund other programs aimed at supporting low-income students, such as TRIO and GEAR UP. However, it makes cuts to critical programs like Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), which would be reduced by $10 million each. The Senate bill does include more funding for research—for example, the National Institutes of Health would get a nearly $1 billion increase for FY 2024 over the $49 billion it received for FY 2023.

The House bill, which has not yet been approved by the full House Committee on Appropriations, is simply unacceptable. House Republicans—who would like to make deeper cuts than those called for in the budget ceiling deal negotiated by President Biden and House Republicans in May—released a draft plan last month that would cut billions from the Education Department, eliminating FWS and FSEOG altogether. It would maintain the maximum Pell Grant award at $7,395 and make deep cuts and further eliminations to a range of other programs that benefit students and institutions.

The higher education association community believes that House appropriators should make changes before the full appropriations committee votes on this bill in September, and if changes are not made, lawmakers should reject the measure. Read the letter from ACE and other associations to the House Committee on Appropriations sent last Friday on behalf of 29 other associations expressing deep concerns over the proposed cuts.

Congress has until Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, to pass all FY 2024 spending measures. If it fails to do so, some government agencies could be forced to close or operate with limited funding. All 12 appropriations bills must be approved before Jan. 1, 2024, to avoid a forced 1 percent cut to all agencies under the debt ceiling deal.

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