Biden unveils FY22 budget request, American Plans’ details

President Joe Biden (Photo: Courtesy of the White House)

President Joe Biden on Friday afternoon unveiled his fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, which fleshes out some of the higher education highlights he announced in April, including increases for community colleges, Pell Grant awards, job training programs and registered apprenticeships. It also provides more details on his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which would include tuition-free community college as well as funding to help community colleges improve their physical and technological infrastructure.

The American Association of Community Colleges is reviewing the plans and will shortly provide an analysis. Overall, the president seeks to increase FY22 funding for the U.S. Education Department by 41% and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) by 14%.

Key proposals of interest to community colleges include:

  • Increasing the maximum Pell Grant award by $400 and opening eligibility to Dreamers. (The maximum Pell award would increase to $8,370 in award year 2022-2023 if both the FY22 request and the American Families Plan are enacted.)
  • $200 million more for TRIO
  • $40 million more for GEAR UP
  • No increases for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants or for Federal Work-Study
  • Almost doubling funding for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, to $76 million, which would support a new grant program focused on evidence-based approaches to improve student access and completion of postsecondary education as well as connections to career opportunities.
  • a $20 million increase for career and technical education state grants
  • level-fund adult education state grants (However, the American Job Plans would provide $100 million for these grants)
  • a $203 million increase for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula grants
  • $100 million more for registered apprenticeships

The two American Plans

Under the American Jobs Plan (AJP), $12.4 billion would go toward improving existing physical and technological infrastructure needs at community colleges and expanding access to community colleges in education deserts. Meanwhile, the American Families Plan (AFP) would provide $123 billion over 10 years for two years of tuition-free community college for first-time students and workers seeking certificates. The program would operate as a first-dollar program. Students can use the benefit over a three-year period and over four years under certain circumstances. States would have to contribute a 25% match.

AJP also would provide $62 billion over 10 years for Completion Grants to States to support completion and retention activities to encourage postsecondary success for low-income and underserved students in high-need institutions. States and institutions could use the grants for practice and activities to improve student success, including wraparound services such as childcare, mental health services, faculty and peer mentoring, emergency basic needs grants, career coaching, practices that recruit and retain diverse faculty, transfer agreements between colleges, and evidence-based remediation programs.

In addition, the plan proposes $39 billion over 10 years for minority-serving institutions, historically Black colleges and universities, and tribal colleges and universities to cover two years of tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000. The program would operate as a first-dollar program.

Skills training

AJP also would provide $81.5 billion in mandatory funding over 10 years for DOL to create millions of high-quality jobs to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, which ties to helping workers acquire the skills needed for related jobs. It includes $9 billion for community college partnerships grants to build the capacity of the community college system to deliver high-quality job training programs based on in-demand skills. DOL would allocate funding through competitive grants to seed partnerships between community colleges, local and regional employers, public workforce system entities, unions and community-based organizations to build high-quality workforce training programs. A portion of the funds would go toward building partnerships to improve equity.

The proposal includes $22 billion for a new Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness (SECTOR) program for high-quality training programs in growing sectors such as clean energy, manufacturing and caregiving. DOL would target programs toward disadvantaged populations. The department would make grants to consortia of workforce system entities, education providers, employers/industry groups, labor-management partnerships, community-based organizations and unions.

The plan also would provide $18 billion to states for a new Comprehensive Supports for Dislocated Workers program to help dislocated workers enrolled in a AJP or WIOA program to help them complete their training and move into new jobs.

AJP would also provide $10 billion to create one to two million new registered apprenticeships ($8 billion) and pre-apprenticeships ($2 billion) and increase access to underrepresented groups.

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