Senate Would Restore Year-Round Pell Grants

DC Shuttle …

Appropriations Bill Funds Ed Dept, Increases Pell Grants and Medical Research Funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill (S. 3040) through subcommittee and out of the full committee by a vote of 29 to 1. The measure would provide $161.9 billion in discretionary spending, which is $270 million less than the current enacted level. Funding for the Department of Education would total $67.8 billion, $220 million less than FY 2016. The bill would restore year-round Pell Grants and increase the maximum grant award from $5,815 to $5,935, ACEnet reports. Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, TRIO, GEAR UP and Federal Work-Study would be funded at FY 2016 levels. The bill would also provide a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health for a total annual appropriations of $34 billion. The Wall Street Journal published an article last week about the Pell Grant program’s projected $7.8 billion surplus next year, and whether there will be a fight to preserve that funding for students.

Graduate Student Retirement Savings  Bill Introduced. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a bill, the Graduate Student Savings Act, which would allow graduate students to save funds from their stipends or fellowships in tax-preferred Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Currently, stipend funds are taxed as income but cannot be put into an IRA because they are not considered compensation. The Hill reports and you can find a fact sheet on the bill here.

Warren Releases Report on Accreditation. Warren released a report critical of both the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and the Education Department’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). Along with the report, Warren wrote a letter to the Department of Education urging them to take action to hold ACICS accountable for “its dismal record of failure.”

Report on Chronic Absenteeism. The Department of Education released data on student absenteeism which showed that 13% of students missed 15 or more days of school during the 2013-14 school year. To build awareness, the agency announced an interactive website on chronic absenteeism to break down the data in an accessible manner. The new data is much more comprehensive than previously used data, Edweek reported.

New Data on Certificates and Completion. Inside Higher Ed reported that several states are increasing college completion rates due to their recent focus on certificates in addition to degrees.

Distance Education Authorization. Inside Higher Ed reported that the Department of Education will make one last effort in the Obama administration to finalize rules governing how colleges become authorized to offer distance education programs to students in other states.

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 June 13, 2016. For more information, please visit:


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