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Omnibus Appropriations Bill has been released and a new Pell Grant Maximum


January 14, 2014

Recent news regarding the 2014 Appropriations Bill, Pell Grant rates, and financial aid from our partners at Cavarocchi Ruscio Denis Associates who represent the State University System of Florida:  

The Fiscal 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill has been completed and released this evening and will move to the Rules Committee tomorrow and then to the House floor on Wednesday.  The House plans to bring up a three-day Continuing Resolution tomorrow to extend the current funding deadline until Saturday to buy time for completing the omnibus bill through the Senate by Saturday at midnight if it passes in the House. The bill follows the terms set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (the “Ryan-Murray Agreement”), providing a total of $1.012 trillion for the operation of the federal government, and meeting the $520.5 billion defense and $491.7 billion non-defense budget caps. All agencies are funded by regular appropriations bills and no Continuing Resolutions are included.

The bill funds all the science agencies and also includes $75 million for the Administration's "First in the World" initiative under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) program to provide grants to colleges and universities, and $20 million for minority serving institutions of higher education.

Among the highlights for research funding agencies important to the SUS:

  • $29.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which is $714 million less than the 2013 enacted level but $1 billion more than the post-sequester level.
  • $5.3 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is $320.4 more than the 2013 enacted level.
  • $850 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is $42.9 million more than the 2013 enacted level.
  • $17.65 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is $154.8 million more than the 2013 enacted level.
  • $7.2 billion for the National Science Foundation, which is $67.9 million below the 2013 enacted level.

The maximum Pell is estimated by the Appropriations Committee to be $5,730, an $85 increase since last year’s maximum and $22.7 billion in discretionary funding is provided for the program, $45.6 million below the President's request level. The report carries the following language relating to the Pell Grant program:

"Student Financial Assistance

The Department shall provide $8,390,000 within the Federal Work-Study program for the Work Colleges program authorized under section 448 of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the Department's central database for the tracking of student aid, including the enrollment status of student aid recipients. In March 2012, the Department announced changes to the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting roster files to allow for improved evaluation of the Pell Grant program. Beginning with the 2012-2013 Pell Grant Award Year, the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting roster files will include, in addition to an institution of higher education's Title IV loan recipients, a separate category for an institution's Pell Grant-only recipients. This revision is aimed at improving the enro11ment reporting process for Pell Grant recipients to the Department, which is responsible for overseeing the performance and effectiveness of the Pell Grant program.

Recognizing the importance of improving the enrollment reporting process, the Department is directed to submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, no later than 120 days after the enactment of this act, on enrollment and graduation information for Pell Grant recipients for the 2012-2013 Pell Grant Award Year. The Department is also directed to continue to provide enrollment and graduation information to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in the future as more robust and useful information becomes available.

Since Pell Grant recipient enrollment and graduation information was not included until the 2012-2013 Pell Grant Award Year, it is understood that six year graduation cohort rates will not be available for analysis until 2019. Additionally, while understanding the limitation of the data as the Department will only be able to report on student enrollment and graduation information for the 2012-2013 Pell Grant Award Year, the report should include enrollment and graduation information for Pell Grant recipients included in the NSLDS Enrollment Reporting roster files by each institution of higher education.

The report should also include a plan to minimize the burden of these recent changes on institutions of higher education, a proposal to improve the tracking of enrollment and graduation rates for students that transfer and nontraditional students, and strategies to increase enrollment rates and improve graduation rates."

For Higher education programs the bill has the following:

"The agreement includes $79,400,000 for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). Within the amount for FIPSE, the bill includes $75,000 for the First in the World initiative, which will provide grants to institutions of higher education to help ensure that they have access to and implement innovative strategies and practices shown to be effective in improving educational outcomes and making college more affordable for students and families.

The agreement includes up to $20,000 to be set aside for minority serving institutions to improve their students' persistence and completion rates while keeping costs under control. The agreement expects the Department to prioritize applications that target innovative strategies at low-income students. The agreement directs the Department to provide a briefing and submit a report detailing information on priorities and the proposed competition to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees not later than 30 days prior to announcing the competition."

Juliet Haydar, Federal Relations