On July 9, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies approved its fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations bill, providing an increase in the Pell Grant maximum while restoring funding to pre-sequestration levels for many other student aid and workforce training programs. The bill is scheduled for full committee consideration on July 11. Senate Republicans have expressed opposition to the bill because it exceeds the Budget Control Act sequester caps and funds the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate bill preserves discretionary funding for Pell while providing a mandatory inflation adjustment that boosts the Pell Grant maximum from $5,645 to $5,785. Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants would be level funded, but Federal Work-Study would receive a boost of $50 million. The TRIO and GEAR UP programs would receive increases (over the pre-sequester levels) of $11 million and $5 million, respectively. Carl D. Perkins Basic State Grants would be funded at $1.123 billion and Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants would be funded at the pre-sequester FY 2013 level. The Senate appropriators did provide additional funding for the CTE and adult education national programs. The bill continues current funding levels for the HEA Titles III and V programs but provides an increase of $7 million for international education.
The legislation also provides funding for several of the new initiatives included in President Obama’s FY 2014 education budget. In addition to boosting support for early childhood education and quality child care, the bill provides $400 million for a new Race to the Top–College Affordability and Completion, and $22 million for Dual Enrollment.
For job training, the bill includes $2.7 billion, an increase of $86 million, for Workforce Investment Act grants to the states for job training and assistance to low-skilled adults, dislocated workers, and low-income youth. It also provides $301 million for veterans employment, an increase of $37 million, to expand employment services to transitioning servicemembers, veterans with disabilities, and their spouses and caregivers.
The House has yet to schedule a mark-up on its version. However, with an allocation that is more than $42 billion below the Senate’s for Labor-HHS-Education, the House Appropriations Committee will be hard pressed to set funding levels for politically popular education and workforce training programs.