As the fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations process gets underway in Congress, community colleges have the opportunity to request federal dollars for specific projects. Many senate offices have begun accepting “congressionally directed spending (CDS)” requests – formerly known as earmarks – from their constituents.
The deadline to submit requests differs from office to office but is generally sometime between March 3 and March 17. The deadline for a specific office can be found on the senator’s official Senate website (the URL will contain senate.gov). Not all senators will be accepting CDS requests, and submitting a request certainly does not guarantee that it will ultimately be included in the final appropriations bill.
Requests for project funding are submitted to individual offices via an online form, which can also be found on the member’s website. The forms may be referred to in other ways, including as “appropriations requests,” “funding requests” or “community project funding requests.”
What to include
The information required for the request may also vary between offices, but requestors will generally need to provide the amount of funding requested; a purpose and justification for the project; and the federal agency and account under which the project falls. Some offices may require more detailed information, such as a complete budget for the project or estimates of how many people the project is expected to impact.
Reforms to the earmarking process in 2021 helped make community colleges prime recipients of CDS funding. For FY 2023, 144 community colleges received a total of $183 million in funding across 163 projects in the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services portion of the bill. While most institutional earmarks usually come from these accounts, community colleges may be able to receive funding from other federal agencies, depending on the type of project proposed.
Examples of community college projects that were funded in the FY 2023 omnibus bill include an expansion of a commercial drivers’ license training program; upgraded facilities and equipment for health care programs; a basic needs pilot program; equipment for campus safety; and a center for LGBTQ+ students.
Members of the House are also expected to begin accepting CDS requests in the coming weeks. The American Association of Community Colleges will provide members with additional information about the House’s process when those forms become available.
Reach out to Alexis Gravely, legislative analyst, if you need assistance in locating your senator’s deadline or online request form.