Washington Watch: House plan includes $107M in earmarks for community colleges

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The fiscal year (FY) 2023 Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on June 30 includes millions in new federal dollars for 89 community colleges, setting up many institutions to receive funding to update equipment, offer new academic programming and provide more student support services.

This is only the second funding cycle since 2011 that House lawmakers have been able to request community project funding – formerly known as earmarks – for organizations and institutions in their districts. For FY 2022, 89 community colleges received $95.2 million across 98 projects in the corresponding legislation.

This year’s appropriations package includes community project funding that is similar in size and scope for community colleges. It would authorize a total of $107 million from the departments of Education (ED), Labor (DOL) and Health and Human Services (HHS) for 89 community colleges spanning 95 projects, based on an American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) analysis of the House’s FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers requested earmarks specifically for projects at community colleges that were included in the committee-passed bill; depending on a variety of factors, different members were given more money to provide to their districts. Some community colleges will also receive funding from agencies other than those in the Labor-HHS-ED bill and are not included in these numbers.

The majority of the projects would be funded through ED, with $72.7 million going towards 63 projects. Sixteen projects each would get funding through DOL and HHS, totaling $12.5 million and $21.7 million, respectively.

Project details

The average amount of funding requested for community colleges was $1 million, with $3.8 million as the highest amount requested for a single project. That funding would be used at San Joaquin Delta College in California to provide equipment and simulation technology for nursing programs.

A few of the projects included in the bill are:

On the Senate side

The FY 2023 appropriations process is still in its early stages, and members of the Senate will also have the opportunity to make requests in their version of the Labor-HHS-ED legislation, so in the coming months there may be additional community project funding provided for community colleges.

In FY 2022, the vast majority of community projects contained in either the House or Senate bills were included in the final legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden. 

About the Author

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