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Appropriations as an Afterthought

Appropriations as an Afterthought
December 15, 2009

WASHINGTON -- It says something about the nature of the political conversation in the nation's capital these days that passage of a bill that will raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,500 and lift spending on the National Institutes of Health soaring to a record $31 billion elicits barely a nod from college lobbyists and other higher education leaders.

Granted, there's been plenty to distract them: the Obama administration directed tens of billions in unexpected funds toward those and other programs last winter as part of its economic stimulus package, and legislation is pending -- stalled by the Great Health Care Debate -- that would overhaul the nation's student loan programs, pour billions of dollars into community colleges, and radically transform several major student aid programs. So college officials can be forgiven for being a little preoccupied.

Still, Sunday's passage by the Senate of a massive spending bill that will finance the Department of Education, the NIH, and most other key science, labor and education programs in the 2010 fiscal year warrants at least a little bit of examination. (The fiscal year began in October, so this legislation is months late.)

A table showing how various programs fared appears at the bottom of this article; it shows among other things that, to the dismay of advocates for the Perkins Loan Program, that program would receive no money in 2010. Programs that provide funds to historically black and Hispanic serving colleges get big increases in the legislation, which President Obama is expected to sign. The National Science Foundation earned a big boost in research funding, and the AmeriCorps national service program saw a nearly 40 percent increase. The vast majority of other education and job training programs would receive the same level of federal support they got in 2009.

One other story line in the legislation might be called the Incredible Shrinking FIPSE. The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, which was once a laboratory for innovation in higher education, has steadily been eroded in recent years as lawmakers have increasingly tapped its comparatively small pool of money to finance pet projects for local institutions. Earlier this year officials at the Education Department had to cancel the program's annual peer-reviewed competition because Congress had essentially earmarked all funds for its own priorities.

At first glance at the table below, it would seem that FIPSE had a good year in 2010, since its total funds grew to $159 million from $134 million in 2009. But as documented by Ben Miller at the think tank Education Sector, there will actually be less money available for the program's competition this year ($28.8 million) than last year ($30.6 million), and several million dollars less than the Obama administration sought.

Lawmakers set aside more than $100 million -- $101,507,000, to be exact -- for hundreds of projects, mostly at individual colleges and universities. Exactly how some of them fit into the program's stated goal of "promoting meaningful and lasting solutions to various, often newly emerging, problems and of promoting the highest quality education for all learners" is a bit perplexing. A majority of the project descriptions say the funds will buy equipment, and the single biggest chunk of the money -- $13.6 million -- will help develop the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, following on another $5.8 million earmarked for the project in 2009.

Funding Levels for Programs Important to Higher Education, Fiscal 2010

Agency/Program 2009 Appropriation
(000s)
2010 Obama Budget Request
(000s)
2010 House Passed
(000s)
2010 Senate Committee Passed (000s) 2010 Compromise
Passed
(000s)
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT  
Student assistance  
Pell Grants (discretionary) $17,288,000 $17,495,000 $17,783,395 $17,495,000 $17,495,000
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants 757,465 757,465 757,465 757,465 757,465
Work Study 980,492 980,492 980,492 980,492 980,492
Perkins Loan cancellations 67,164 0 49,701 0 0
Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships 63,852 63,852 63,852 63,852 63,852
Academic Competitiveness /SMART Grants 0 0 0 0  
TEACH Grants 0 0 0 0  
Institutional aid  
Strengthening Institutions 80,000 84,000 84,000 84,000 84,000
Strengthening Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities 23,158 24,316 36,021 24,316 30,189
Strengthening Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions 11,579 12,158 18,010 12,158 15,084
Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities 238,095 250,000 283,172 250,000 266,586
Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions 58,500 61,425 61,425 61,425 61,425
Strengthening Predominantly Black Institutions n/a 7,875 13,727 7,875 10,801
Minority Science and Engineering Improvement 8,577 9,006 10,000 9,006 9,503
Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions 93,256 97,919 136,938 97,919 117,429
Promoting Postbac Opportunities for Hispanic Americans n/a n/a 10,500 n/a 10,500
Strengthening Asian American and Pacific Islander-serving Institutions 2,500 2,625 4,575 2,625 3,600
Strengthening Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions n/a 2,625 4,575 2,625 3,600
Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Voc-Tech Institutions 7,773 7,773 8,162 7,773 8,162
Gallaudet U. 124,000 120,000 120,000 126,000 123,000
National Technical Institute for the Deaf 64,212 68,437 68,437 68,437 68,437
Howard U. 234,977 234,977 234,977 234,977 234,977
HBCU Capital Financing Loans 10,354 20,582 20,582 10,354 20,582
International education/foreign language 118,881 118,881 128,881 118,881 125,881
Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education 133,667 47,424 133,916 86,324 159,403
Model Postsecondary Programs for Students With Intellectual Disabilities n/a n/a n/a 14,000 11,000
Demonstration Projects to Ensure Access for Students With Disabilities 6,755 6,755 10,755 6,755 6,755
Teacher Quality Partnerships 50,000 50,000 43,000 48,000 43,000
Career and adult education  
State Grants 1,160,911 1,160,911 1,160,911 1,160,911 1,160,911
Tech Prep 102,923 102,923 102,923 102,923 102,923
Adult Education 554,122 628,221 628,221 628,221 628,221
Student Support  
TRIO programs 848,089 848,089 868,089 848,089 853,089
Gear Up 313,212 313,212 333,212 313,212 323,212
Child Care Access Program 16,034 16,034 17,034 16,034 16,034
Graduate education  
Byrd Scholarships 40,642 40,642 40,642 42,000 42,000
Javits Fellowships 9,687 9,687 9,687 9,687 9,687
Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need 31,030 31,030 31,030 31,030 31,030
Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000
Other Education Department offices  
Student aid administration 753,402 870,402 870,402 870,402 870,402
Research and statistics 617,175 689,256 664,256 679,256 659,008
Office for Civil Rights 96,826 103,024 103,024 103,024 103,024
Inspector general 54,539 60,053 60,053 60,053 60,053
LABOR DEPARTMENT  
Adult job training 861,540 861,540 861,540 861,540 861,540
Dislocated Worker Assistance 1,183,840 1,183,840 1,183,840 1,183,840 1,183,840
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES  
National Institutes of Health 30,325,224 30,766,988 31,266,988 30,758,788 $31,008,788
Health professions programs 392,726 528,098 529,708 460,098 497,954
Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education 310,000 310,000 320,000 315,000 317,500
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION          
Research 5,116,100 5,665,240 5,574,110 5,550,000 5,549,920
Education 845,260 857,760 862,900 757,760 872,760
Major equipment 152,010 117,290 114,290 122,290 117,290
Total 6,490,400 7,045,000 6,936,510 6,916,760 6,926,510
CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE  
AmeriCorps 271,196 372,547 331,547 372,547 372,547

 

 

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