The Biden administration on Friday gave Congress its appropriations wish list for fiscal year 2022 that includes increases for community colleges, Pell Grant awards and job training programs, including registered apprenticeships.
Overall, the president’s budget proposal would increase appropriations by a whopping 16% to $769 billion. Education advocates noted that the boost would return domestic discretionary spending to 3.3% of gross domestic product, which is the average level over the past 30 years.
The so-called “skinny budget” provides Congress with an overview of the president’s priorities as lawmakers prepare to hold hearings with various federal agencies pertaining to the annual funding request. The administration’s full budget proposal is expected later this spring.
“This moment of crisis is also a moment of possibility,” wrote Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, in an April 9 letter to leaders of the House and Senate appropriations and budget committees. “The upcoming appropriations process is another important opportunity to continue laying a stronger foundation for the future and reversing a legacy of chronic disinvestment in crucial priorities.”
Supports for student success
The president’s budget would increase appropriations for the U.S. Education Department by 41% to $102.8 billion, including $600 million for “institutional capacity and student supports” at community colleges, minority-serving institutions (MSIs), historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and tribally controlled colleges and universities.
“These funds would also support programs that provide additional help to disadvantaged students, including those at community colleges, to ensure they succeed in and graduate from college,” according to a budget summary.
The president’s plan also calls to increase the Pell Grant maximum award by $400. The maximum grant is scheduled to increase by $150, to $6,495, for the award year that begins July 1.
The requested $400 increase “is one piece of a more comprehensive proposal to double the maximum Pell Grant,” according to the summary. Various higher education organizations, including the American Association of Community Colleges, support the doubling of the maximum Pell Grant award.
The president’s proposal also would open Pell grants to qualifying Dreamers, who are students who came to the U.S. as children and are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
The discretionary request also seeks a $100 million increase (roughly 50%) in funding for programs that aim to increase participation in science and engineering among racial and ethnic groups, who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields.
“This funding would support curriculum design, research on successful recruitment and retention methods, development of outreach or mentorship programs, fellowships, and building science, engineering research, and education capacity at HBCUs and other MSIs,” the White House summary said.
On the DOL side
The president’s budget outline includes a 14% increase for U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) programs, including a 6% increase ($203 million) for state formula grants under the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act program to help more dislocated workers, low-income adults and disadvantaged youth hurt by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The plan also seeks a $100 million increase, to $285 million, for registered apprenticeships (RA), with a focus on providing more apprentice opportunities to underrepresented groups, such as women and people of color.
“This investment would provide critical initial funding to support capacity-building, including expanding and diversifying RA programs, to meet the President’s commitment to strengthening the RA program and increase the number of apprentices in the United States,” the summary said.