White House budget blueprint has billions for higher ed

The request focuses on increasing Pell Grants, further supporting HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and reducing racial gaps.

The White House Office of Management and Budget on Friday released its preliminary FY 2022 budget request blueprint, including top-line figures for discretionary spending programs, which includes $102.8 billion overall for the Education Department, an increase of $29.8 billion over the FY 2021 enacted budget.

The request, the first of the Biden administration, provides further insight into the administration’s priorities for education and lays down a marker for negotiations with Congress on FY 2022 spending. The administration will release a more detailed budget request later.

The request includes $1 billion for Department of Justice Violence Against Women Act of 1994 programs, nearly double the 2021 level, including funding for new programs to expand restorative justice efforts, protect transgender survivors, and support women at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) to ensure these institutions have the same resources as other schools to address gender-based violence.

To make college more affordable and help shrink racial gaps in higher education the discretionary request takes a significant first step toward doubling the Pell Grant by proposing to increase the maximum grant by $400. The discretionary request also increases institutional capacity and student supports at HBCUs, TCUs, MSIs, and low-resourced institutions, such as community colleges—providing additional help to ensure underserved students succeed in and graduate from college.

In addition, the discretionary request provides a $100 million, or roughly 50-percent, increase in funding for programs that aim to increase participation in science and engineering of individuals from racial and ethnic groups, who are traditionally underrepresented in these fields. This funding would support curriculum design, research on successful recruitment and retention methods, development of outreach or mentorship programs, fellowships, and building science, engineering research, and education capacity at HBCUs and other MSIs.

The discretionary request would also ensure “DREAMers,” students who came to the United States as children and are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, are eligible for Pell Grants if they meet the standard requirements for that aid. In total, the request invests an additional $3 billion in Pell Grants.

It also increases funding for HBCUs, TCCUs, Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and community colleges to enroll, retain, and graduate students. The discretionary request would increase institutional capacity and student support at HBCUs, TCCUs, MSIs, and low-resourced institutions, including community colleges. The discretionary request provides an increase of more than $600 million over the 2021 enacted level for these programs. These funds would also support programs that provide additional help to disadvantaged students, including those in community colleges.

The request also includes an additional $450 million for tribal communities for climate change mitigation, environmental justice projects, and investment to begin the process of transitioning tribal colleges to renewable energy.

The Office for Civil Rights would also see an increase from $131 million in FY 2021 to $144 million in FY 2022 “to advance equity in educational opportunity and delivery at Pre-K through 12 schools and at institutions of higher education.”

Sources: Congressional FY 2020 budget documents, Trump administration FY 2021 budget proposal, Biden administration FY 2022 budget request.

Read the full request below.

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.

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