Washington Watch: Community college earmarks


The federal government is set to give a total of more than $95 million to community colleges across the country for technology upgrades, improved student services, new academic programs and dozens of other projects as a part of the final fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Tuesday.

The House and Senate revived its previous process of directing funding from federal agencies to specific projects in lawmakers’ home states and districts for the FY 2022 appropriations bill. Formerly known as “earmarking,” the practice was eliminated in Congress for a decade until Democratic leadership announced last spring that they would accept proposals from members for “community project funding” in the House and “congressionally-directed spending” in the Senate.

As a result, 89 community colleges will receive a total of $95.2 million for 98 projects funded by the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, based on an analysis of the final FY 2022 appropriations bill conducted by American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) staff. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers requested and received earmarks specifically for projects at community colleges. Some community colleges will receive funding from agencies other than those in the Labor-HHS-ED bill and are not included in these numbers.

The average amount of funding directed to community college projects was $883,000, with $5.1 million as the highest amount appropriated for a single project. That funding will be used by Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) for a data center operations degree and certificate program. NVCC received the most funding via earmarks, followed by Ozarks Technical Community College, Macomb Community College, the Los Angeles Community College District and Northern Maine Community College.

Several institutions received funding for more than one project: Northern Maine Community College and the Los Angeles Community College District each received funding for three projects, while five other community colleges received funding for two.

A few of the projects that will be funded include:

Here’s a complete list of projects for community colleges.

For FY 2022, individual members of Congress solicited requests for funding from constituents, which were then submitted to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for review and inclusion in the final funding bill. Neither committee has announced the process and deadline for FY 2023 earmarks, but last year, House requests were due by April 30 and Senate requests were due between mid-June and early-July. AACC will update members when more information about the FY 2023 process becomes available.  

About the Author

Alexis Gravely
Alexis Gravely is a legislative analyst at the American Association of Community Colleges.