The House Appropriations Committee has released report language to accompany the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding bill. The report details funding allocations and Congressional justifications, directions and priorities, alongside detailed information on community project funding items (formerly called earmarks).
The LHHS bill was approved by the subcommittee on June 23 and will be marked up by the full Committee on Thursday.
Access and affordability
The LHHS report underscores the Appropriations Committee’s interest in supporting college access and affordability, particularly as students and institutions continue to recover from the Covid pandemic. It reiterates strong Congressional support for need-based student aid, important college access programs, and funding for institutions serving students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
The FY23 LHHS bill would raise the maximum Pell Grant award by $500, to $7,395 for the 2023-24 award year, and would deliver funding increases for the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program, the Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (SEOG), GEAR UP and TRIO programs.
The report details a new funding increase for the Title III Part A, Strengthening Institutions program. This program provides critical funding for community colleges and other institutions serving students from low-income backgrounds across the country. The FY23 bill would increase program funding by $65 million, bringing the total for the program to $175 million.
The committee’s report underscores support for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which would receive an increase of $30 million in the FY23 bill. The report also urges the U.S. Education Department (ED) to revisit how grants are awarded and distributed to colleges. The current maximum grant award cap is based on a fixed percentage of Pell Grant funding received by an institution, limiting grant amounts. The committee is asking ED to create a new cap that more accurately reflects the cost of providing high-quality childcare on campuses.
The report includes new directions for the Postsecondary Student Success Grants (PSSG) program, housed within the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). Created in the FY22 spending bill, PSSG would see an increase of $200 million in FY23. The committee also asks ED to award future grants through a tiered-evidence competition based on a version of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) structure established in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This system would ensure that at least half of the total funding goes to programs with a strong evidence base (including those recognized by the Institute of Education Sciences’ What Works Clearinghouse) while still encouraging investment in innovative strategies.
Other key programs in FIPSE include the Basic Needs Grant Program ($15 million) and the Emergency Aid Grant Program ($5 milion). The Basic Needs Grants will support institutions’ efforts to promote student basic needs security, including access to housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. The report requires ED to award at least 25% of basic needs grants to community colleges. The Emergency Aid Grants will be awarded to institutions to help students cover emergency expenses that could threaten to derail a student’s continued enrollment.
Employment and training
The committee report underscores the need for workforce and training investments to eliminate inequities in access to good jobs and highlights three important community college funding priorities – the Strengthening Community College Training Grants, registered apprenticeship programs, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state formula programs – as key to advancing that goal.
The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants program would see an increase of $50 million in the FY23 bill, doubling the program’s total funding. WIOA state formula grants ($116 million) and registered apprenticeships ($68 million) would also receive substantial increases.
The committee report language also encourages the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to develop new programs to facilitate enhanced education and training programs in advanced manufacturing, with community colleges identified as recommended partners.
Finally, community colleges across the country have been selected to receive community project funding (formerly earmarks) from DOL, ED and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budgets to support education and training programs, facility upkeep, and the purchase of new equipment.