House Dems Would Bump Up Funds for Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study, Teacher Development

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

House Subcommittee Approves Education Spending Bill. House Democrats released the text of their education spending bill for fiscal 2020, and it was approved at markup by the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee a day later. The full Appropriations Committee will consider the bill at a markup this Wednesday. The legislation would provide $189.8 billion for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, an increase of $11.7 billion over fiscal 2019 levels. In the Education Department, financial aid programs would see funding bumps, including Pell Grants, which would get a $150 annual increase in the maximum annual award to keep up with inflation. Democrats also proposed in the bill to increase funding for K-12, afterschool and teacher-focused programs that President Donald Trump proposed eliminating. The draft bill would give the department a funding bump of about 6%, or $4.4 billion over the enacted level and $11.9 billion above Trump’s request, excluding Pell Grant rescissions. Student aid programs would take home some of the bigger spending increases. College students receiving Pell Grants could see their maximum award increased by $150 to $6,345 per person, according to Democratic appropriators’ summary. The Federal Work-Study program would get a $304 million increase to $1.4 billion. The Title II-A grant program, which pays for professional development for teachers, would receive $2.6 billion, a $500 million increase in funds from fiscal 2019. Special Olympics education program funding would increase funding by 20% over enacted fiscal 2019 levels at $21 million. Two new programs, aimed at community colleges and veterans with disabilities, would be funded under the Labor Department section of the bill.

Administration Solicits Advice on Student Loan Debt. The Trump administration enlisted several outside consultants to look at the costs of the Education Department’s $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio and has considered options for selling off some of the debt to private investors, Politico reports. The Education Department has hired FI Consulting and McKinsey & Company to analyze the student loan portfolio. Under the Higher Education Act, the Education Department has the authority to sell the debt. The department would be required to consult with the Treasury Department, and the transaction would have to be at no cost to taxpayers. The hiring of consultants is “about getting a clear understanding of the state of the portfolio,” said Education Department spokesperson Liz Hill to Politico.

Veterans Groups Send HEA Priorities. More than three dozen veterans and military service organizations sent a letter to lawmakers spelling out their Higher Education Act reauthorization priorities. The letter asks that HEA “finally close the unintended 90/10 loophole.” It also calls on Congress to “maintain minimum student protections like Borrower Defense,” and “to agree on minimum quality from colleges.”

House Holds Hearing on School Equality. The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on the Brown v. Board of Education court case 65 years later. Called “A Promise Unfulfilled,” the hearing looked at the state of public education, the Trump administration’s policies and the role of Congress in addressing inequities. Democrats used the hearing to highlight two recent GAO reports on racial and socioeconomic segregation in public schools and “Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities” in public schools. Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) also criticized the Trump administration’s decisions to rescind Obama-era guidance on school diversity and discipline.

Higher Education Outcomes Hearing. The House Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment will hold a hearing May 9 on “The Cost of Non-Completion: Improving Student Outcomes in Higher Education.”

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of May 6, 2019. For more information, please visit:



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