Cut to Pell Funding in House Spending Bill

By Stephen Payne, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

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, includes a $1.3 billion funding cut for the Pell Grant Program compared to previous years. Among other items of note, the bill does not include language to restore year-round Pell, as the Senate did. The bill will be considered by the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (“Labor-H”) Appropriations Subcommittee this morning.

Unlike the Senate bill, the House would not restore year-round Pell Grants, but like the Senate, the Pell Grant maximum award is projected at $5,935 for AY 2017-18, an increase of $120, which is subject to change based on fluctuations in inflation, as defined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). However, the House bill allocates the lowest overall dollar amount to the Pell Grant Program since FY 2010 and represents a decrease of $1.3 billion from FY 2016. Importantly, in March, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported the Pell Grant Program was operating with a $7.8 billion surplus, meaning that despite the cut in funding, the program stands on relatively solid financial footing.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS) would see level-funding for FY 2017 under the House proposal, and the TRIO Programs look to receive a $60 million increase this year.

Like the Senate, the subcommittee prioritized funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which received an additional $1.25 billion over FY 2016 levels.

Also included in the bill are several higher education policy provisions, including provisions to block the gainful employment, teacher preparation program, credit hour, and state authorization regulations. The Senate’s education funding package did not include any of these controversial policy provisions, which often dissuade Democratic support.

The bill will be considered by the subcommittee on Thursday morning before potential consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee next week. Despite some progress, according to a report in POLITICO on Wednesday, “Lawmakers are now looking toward the same result that has existed for decades: a continuing resolution to keep the government afloat past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.”

Stay tuned to Today’s News for more information about the FY 2017 budget and appropriations process. To learn more, visit NASFAA’s Budget and Appropriations page for background information and a news archive.


Correction: a previous version of this article based on preliminary numbers incorrectly stated that the FWS allocation had increased. Instead, FWS was level-funded. We’ve since updated the article to reflect this.


Publication Date: 7/7/2016

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