House Spending Bill Boosts Funding for Federal Student Aid Research
Published: May 01, 2019

Funding levels match requests made by the higher education community

​The House appropriations subcommittee charged with funding the Department of Education (ED) approved a bill yesterday that would increase spending for the department by 6 percent—or $4.4 billion—for FY 2020, including a boost for the maximum Pell Grant award and a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

The legislation, unveiled by House appropriators Monday, is a starting point​ for negotiations for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The bill provides $75.9 billion in discretionary funding for ED in the upcoming fiscal year, compared to the $71.5 billion it received for FY 2019. Included in this total is $24.9 billion for federal student aid programs ($492 million above FY 2019) and $2.7 billion for higher education programs ($431 million above FY 2019). The funding levels match requests made by the higher education community earlier this year.

The Trump administration requested $64 billion for ED as part of its FY 2020 budget request released in March, a 12 percent cut from FY 2019. The president’s request included reducing overall Pell Grant funding by $2 billion, eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program, and slashing nearly $5 billion in funding for NIH, among other cuts.

However, the president has proposed deep spending cuts on both domestic programs and entitlement programs in his two previous budget requests, and each time Congress has ignored them. Lawmakers actually provided increases to student financial aid and a substantial increase for research funding in the last two years. It does remain to be seen if the Republican-controlled Senate will go along with the level of spending increases proposed by the House this year.

Higher education highlights in the House bill:

  • $6,345 for the maximum Pell Grant, an increase of $150 above FY 2019 and the president’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.

The full Appropriations Committee will consider the measure at a May 8 markup.


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