House Spending Bill Would Cut Pell, Block College Ratings

By Megan McClean, Policy & Federal Relations 

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 bill cut $2.8 billion from the Education Department, including funding for the Title IV programs for the 2016-17 award year. Under the bill, the discretionary portion of the Pell Grant program would be cut by $370 million for FY 2016. The $370 million would be taken from Pell’s current surplus, so while this would still yield a scheduled maximum grant of $5,915 for AY 2016-17, it will cause problems in the future as Pell’s surplus is typically used for to cover any shortfalls that might occur. Both Federal Work-Study and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant were level funded in the bill. As has been the case since FY 2005, there was no funding for the Perkins Loan program. 

While the bill eliminates several programs throughout all of education, it does provide increases for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Head Start, Early Start, and the National Institutes of Health.

In addition, the bill contains several non-funding directives, including provisions to block gainful employment, credit hour, and state authorization program integrity regulations. The bill also includes a provision to block the Obama administration’s Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS), which is slated to debut this summer.

The full House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to review the bill next week. Given the severity of the overall cuts, it is unlikely that all of these cuts will be approved in the final budget bill. Stay tuned to Today’s News for more information about the FY 2016 budget. To learn more about the budget process, visit NASFAA’s Budget Tool.


Publication Date: 6/18/2015

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