Pell Mell

DC Shuttle …

Appropriations Committee Passes Education Funding Bill. The House Appropriations Committee passed the labor, HHS and education appropriations bill by a vote of 31 to 19. The bill would fund the U.S. Department of Education at $67 billion, which is $1.3 billion below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $2.4 billion below the president’s budget request. Some have criticized the measure because it would reduce spending on the Pell Grant program by $1.3 billion, redirecting money from the program’s estimated $7.8 billion surplus to other areas. The maximum Pell Grant award would be increased to $5,935. The committee rejected an amendment, 19 to 27, that would have reinstated year-round Pell Grants. Senate appropriators included year-round Pell funding in their version of the spending bill. The committee did approve an amendment by voice vote that would require the Education Department to conduct a report on how to address segregation at schools after a May report from the Government Accountability Office found an increasing percentage of schools with predominantly low-income black and Hispanic students.

Bill to Simplify Pell Grant Application Process. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced legislation that would allow Pell Grant recipients to apply for federal aid only once, rather than each year. The change would apply only to dependent students who receive Pell Grants. After filling out the FAFSA in their first year, students would be allowed to simply certify that they are a dependent student in subsequent years. If their financial circumstances change, financial aid offices would still have the discretion to alter their aid without students having to refile.

Administration Preparing Rules for Online State Regulations. The Office of Management and Budget approved the administration’s proposal to push states to increase oversight of online college programs. The Education Department will soon release a proposed rule, which would require states to actively regulate online programs that enroll their residents, even if the college isn’t physically located in the state. Online programs that operate across multiple states would have to go through multiple approval processes under the administration’s plan. It is not clear how the rule will address multi-state reciprocity agreements. House appropriators advanced an education funding bill that would block the department’s state authorization proposal.

Letter on ESSA Subgroups. More than 30 organizations signed onto a letter urging the Education Department to reconsider part of its draft rule for holding schools accountable under the Every Student Succeeds Act. They want to see changes to the minimum size of a student subgroup that would be counted for accountability purposes. The groups signing the letter say these groups should be smaller.

Rules on Financial Aid Accounts. A piece in the New York Times explains how new rules have taken affect regarding how colleges may work with students to manage the financial aid accounts.

Lumina Research on Outcomes-Based Funding. The Lumina Foundation issued a series of papers exploring how public colleges and universities are using outcomes-based funding.

Tuition Report. The National Center for Education Statistics released a report which found that the average tuition and fees at 4-year public institutions increased by nearly 4% between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

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 July 18, 2016. For more information, please visit:


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