The Senate Appropriations committee released the official text of its spending plan, which provides more details as to how the chamber’s bipartisan legislation seeks to allocate funding for the Department of Education’s (ED) programs for fiscal year 2024.
As a reminder, the Senate’s proposal came in below President Joe Biden’s budget request for education spending, but spared a number of higher education programs from steep cuts — or even complete elimination — that were proposed in the package put forth by House Republicans.
The Senate bill text provides for a $250 increase to the maximum Pell Grant, which would bring the total maximum award for the 2024-25 award year to $7,645. At the same time, the bill includes a $200 million rescission from the Pell Grant program reserve fund.
The department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) would see a 7.4% increase in funding. The committee cited the need to support FSA due to the increased costs associated with servicing federal student loans, particularly as monthly repayments resume this fall.
Senators also included a provision requiring the department to provide monthly briefings to congressional leaders on the roll-out of the resumption of student loan repayments that will begin this fall. The Senate specifically requested those briefings to include updated information on borrowers’ repayment status, metrics on communications with borrowers, and any changes to communications with borrowers “based on data or behavioral economic assumptions.”
Due to the parameters of the debt ceiling law, the committee had to abide by certain spending limits, and froze funding for most other programs at the fiscal year 2023 level.
The Senate’s bill would cut spending by $10 million each for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS) programs. The House proposal eliminated funding for both of those programs.
Another provision urges ED to conduct a study on implementation efforts of the FAFSA Simplification Act. The language requests ED, for example, to examine how the new requirements for students to report the farms their families live on as assets impacts their federal student aid.
On Thursday, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority, the committee moved the bill to the Senate floor and aims to take up the measure in September, following the summer recess.
Publication Date: 7/31/2023