Federal Budget & Appropriations

The Federal Budget and Appropriations Process represents the opportunity for NASFAA to advocate on behalf of student financial aid administrators for healthy funding for the federal student aid programs. This page includes a map of the federal budget and appropriations process and links to the most recent updates from NASFAA's Policy & Federal Relations staff at the bottom of the page.

Hover your mouse over each step of the budget process diagrammed below in the graphic for a description and link to more information if available. 

 

 


Federal Budget & Appropriations News: Every February, the president is to submit a budget request to Congress outlining the fiscal priorities of the administration. The request does not assign program-specific funding levels, but instead serves as a policy narrative with justifications for requested aggregate spending levels. The House Budget Committee is a standing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives that provides legislative oversight for the federal budget process. The Budget Committee's primary responsibilities are drafting a budget resolution, setting aggregate spending levels, and assigning allocations to appropriations subcommittees. A Budget Resolution is a non-binding document outlining the high-level budget priorities of the House. The document provides aggregate spending levels for the different spending 'buckets' of the federal government and includes accompanying policy directives. The Senate Budget is a standing committee in the U.S. Senate that provides legislative oversight for the federal budget process. The Budget Committee's primary responsibilities are drafting a budget resolution, setting aggregate spending levels, and assigning allocations to appropriations subcommittees. A Budget Resolution is a non-binding document outlining the high-level budget priorities of the House. The document provides aggregate spending levels for the different spending 'buckets' of the federal government and includes accompanying policy directives. There are twelve different appropriations subcommittees within the federal government. Funding for the student aid programs comes from the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, commonly referred to as Labor-H. As the name suggests, this subcommittee funds not only education programs, but also programs in labor, health, and human services. The Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services and Education works to pass a bill that assigns specific fund levels to each program (using the high level spending parameters as designated in the Budget Resolution). For example, they would determine what the maximum Pell Grant would be set at for the following year. Once the House passes this bill they send it to the Senate for approval. There are twelve different appropriations subcommittees within the federal government. Funding for the student aid programs comes from the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, commonly referred to as Labor-H. As the name suggests, this subcommittee funds not only education programs, but also programs in labor, health, and human services. The Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services and Education works to pass a bill that assigns specific fund levels to each program (using the high level spending parameters as designated in the Budget Resolution). For example, they would determine what the maximum Pell Grant would be set at for the following year. They review the House's version of the spending bill and make any necessary modifications. Assuming that both Appropriations Committees have arrived at a compromise on a spending bill (achieved through a conference committee), the bill gets passed by both chambers of Congress and is sent to the president to be signed into law, officially establishing the levels at which the government can spend money for the upcoming year. In the event that the Appropriations Subcommittees are not able to write and approve all twelve spending bills, those pieces that are able to be completed are gathered up, along with other miscellaneous programs that there is consensus on, into one single 'omnibus' and passed in lieu of an official appropriations bill. This enables the House and Senate to pass a stop-gap spending measure with a single round of voting, rather than having to bring each smaller bill up for a vote independently. Omnibus spending bills have become more common in recent years. In the event that Congress and the president cannot agree to pass any form of appropriations bill, regular or omnibus, Congress can instead pass a continuing resolution (CR), which maintains current levels of spending (sometimes with small modifications) for a defined period of time. Critics contend that CRs allow lawmakers to avoid making difficult choices and bring uncertainty to many important federal programs.

  • Cut to Pell Funding in House Spending Bill
    July 7, 2016 - One month after the Senate unveiled an education funding bill, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee followed suit on Wednesday with their own plan for fiscal year (FY) 2017. The FY 2017 bill, which impacts award year (AY) 2017-18, in...
  • Spending Bill Clears Committee With NASFAA-Supported Year-Round Pell Language
    June 10, 2016 - On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its fiscal year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill by a bipartisan vote of 29-1. The bill, which was covered in Today's News on Tuesday, would restore the ye...
  • Year-Round Pell Returns, Pell Surplus Takes a Hit in Senate Spending Bill
    June 8, 2016 - On Tuesday, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies ("Labor-H") Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2017, which impacts award year (AY) 2017-18. The bill now heads...
  • Cost-Savings in House Budget Plan Come at a Price
    March 25, 2016 - A week after the House Budget Committee released its fiscal year (FY) 2017 Budget Resolution, which called for $6.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, a new committee report further details what would be on the chopping block, including some no...
  • House Budget Committee Releases FY 2017 Budget Plan, Would Freeze Pell Grant Maximum for Next Decade
    March 16, 2016 - House Budget Committee Chair Tom Price (R-GA) on Tuesday released the committee’s fiscal year (FY) 2017 Budget Resolution, calling for $6.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade in order to balance the budget by FY 2026. The budget res...
  • President Obama’s Final Budget Proposal Renews Push for Signature Policy Initiatives
    February 10, 2016 - With a little less than a year remaining in office, President Obama released his final budget proposal on Tuesday. The $4.1 trillion budget for federal fiscal year (FY) 2017, which affects award year 2017-2018, provided little surprises for observers...
  • December Spending Agreement Affects Ability-to-Benefit Determinations
    January 28, 2016 - The Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2016 (P.L. 114-113), signed into law by President Obama in December, set funding levels for all federal programs and also included some important policy changes.
  • Student Aid Programs Largely Level-funded in Spending Deal
    January 6, 2016 - In a $1.1 trillion spending bill released late Tuesday night, congressional leaders have reached a compromise for government funding for federal fiscal year (FY) 2016. Coupled with the "Omnibus" spending package, a bill to extend several major tax br...
  • Two-Year Budget Deal Easily Clears House, Moves to Senate
    October 29, 2015 - To the surprise of many, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan budget agreement on Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 266 to 167, with all Democrats supporting the bill and a clear majority of Republicans voting in opposition. The agreement,...
  • Déjà Vu All Over Again: Looming Government Shutdown Not Likely to Significantly Disrupt Student Aid
    September 24, 2015 - "It's like déjà vu all over again." The famous quote attributed to the late baseball player Yogi Berra, who passed away on Tuesday, fits perfectly in most political debates in Washington, D.C. Perhaps no major issue feels so persis...
  • Republicans Release Temporary Budget Proposal
    September 23, 2015 - With only days before the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30, Republicans have released a continuing resolution (CR) to extend funding for the federal government. A CR continues current federal funding levels until a specified date. Witho...
  • Senate Spending Bill Cuts FWS, FSEOG
    June 25, 2015 - The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations Subcommittee approved their fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending bill on Tuesday.
  • House Spending Bill Would Cut Pell, Block College Ratings
    June 18, 2015 - The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee approved yesterday their fiscal year (FY) 2016 spending bill. Using the House-passed Budget Resolution as a blueprint, the Subcommittee’s...
  • Congress Establishes FY16 Road Map
    March 30, 2015 - On Friday the Senate capped a marathon session of amendment votes by voting 52-46 to pass a budget resolution that proposes to cut $124 billion from student aid programs over the next 10 years. This followed action taken earlier in the week...
  • Senate Budget Seeks Fair-Value Scoring
    March 19, 2015 - Following closely on the heels of their counterparts in the House, on Wednesday Senate Republicans released a budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2016 that continues a trend of low-spending on discretionary programs. As a reminder, ...
  • House Republicans Release FY2016 Budget Proposal
    March 18, 2015 - House Republicans on Tuesday released their fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget resolution, which includes proposals to freeze maximum Pell Grant awards and address student loan debt.
  • President Obama Focuses on Access, Affordability, Simplification In FY 2016 Budget Request
    February 3, 2015 - President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request to Congress proposes a maximum Pell Grant award of $5,915 for the 2016-17 award year, reforms the higher education tax system, and touts the two-years’ free community college proposal...
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