Title

House Panel Advances Dems' Education Spending Plan

July 14, 2020
 
 

Democrats on a key House committee on Monday approved an education spending bill that would reject hundreds of millions in cuts for colleges and universities, as well as more than a billion in cuts to college student aid, that have been sought by President Trump.

The spending measure approved by the House appropriations committee, along partisan lines, would also increase spending on career and technical education by $25 million, $738 million less than the major boost Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos want.

The Democrat-controlled House must still work out a deal with the Republican Senate and the Trump administration as part of a budget deal later this year.

The spending package is separate from discussions around the next coronavirus relief package, expected to begin in earnest when the Senate returns from its July 4 break next week, and does little to deal with huge financial losses higher education institutions are taking from the pandemic.

The House proposal would provide a modest $716 million increase to the Education Department’s budget, to $73.5 billion.

It raises funding for higher education institutions by $81 million to $2.6 billion, $768 million more than what Trump proposed. Included in the proposal is $49 million more for historically Black colleges and universities and other institutions serving minorities.

The measure stops short of the long-term doubling the size of Pell Grant awards, as higher education advocacy groups want. But Jessica Thompson, an associate vice president at the Institute for College Access & Success, praised the proposal for increasing the size of the maximum Pell Grant by $150 to $6,495, to keep pace with inflation at a time when the recession is expected to make it more difficult for lower-income students to attend college.

In addition, the bill removes a prohibition on incarcerated students receiving Pell Grants. Representative Rosa DeLauro, the Connecticut Democrat who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on education, said the change would “reduce recidivism and provide opportunity.”

The proposal would also amend the so-called 90-10 rule, which caps the share of revenue for-profit institutions can take in from federal sources at 90 percent.

Because the current cap exempts federal tuition benefits for veterans and active members of the U.S. military, critics have said it encourages for-profit institutions, some of which have been found to have used misleading recruiting practices, to target veterans and service members. However, the bill would tighten the restriction so that no more than 85 percent of the incomes of for-profits can come from the federal government. It would also begin counting tuition help for veterans and service members toward the cap.

"Veterans and military service organizations have named closing the 90-10 loophole as their top priority in higher education. We are pleased to see House Appropriators heeding the call of veterans and military service organizations. We call on bipartisan leaders to make this law," the advocacy group Veterans Education Success said in a statement.

According to an analysis by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, Trump’s proposal would cut more than $2 billion next year in federal student financial support, mostly by bringing back proposals to eliminate programs like subsidized Stafford Loans, freeze the maximum Pell Grant for the next decade and cut $630 million from the federal work-study program.

The administration also proposed creating “sensible annual and lifetime loan limits for graduate and parent borrowers,” a budget document said. It would limit Parent PLUS loans for undergraduate students to $26,500. Dependent undergraduate students would be eligible to borrow an additional amount, up to $57,500, depending on the parents' eligibility for additional borrowing.

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

We are retiring comments and introducing Letters to the Editor. Letters may be sent to [email protected].

Read the Letters to the Editor  »

We are retiring comments and introducing Letters to the Editor. Share your thoughts »

 

Opinions on Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U

Back to Top