Ten Take-Aways from the New Government Funding Package

Blog Post
Photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash
March 15, 2022

Today, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (the Act) into law. The package provides funding for the federal government for fiscal year (FY) 2022, which runs through September. The product of a lengthy appropriations process, the Act launches new initiatives, increases funding levels for many existing programs, and focuses on providing support for low-income and traditionally underserved communities.

Ten higher education- and workforce-related provisions stood out to New America’s education policy team.

A $5 million increase in Strengthening Community College Training Grants.

This additional funding, for a total of $50 million, is encouraging because the similar Obama era, $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program (TAACCCT) investment had a positive impact on community colleges and their students. For example, our team reviewed 216 final evaluations of individual TAACCCT grants and conducted a meta-analysis that found participants were:

  • Nearly twice as likely (91 percent more likely) to complete a program or earn a credential as comparison students.
  • 27 percent more likely to have positive labor market outcomes (employment or wage gain) than comparison students.

Continued federal funding to build the capacity of community colleges to serve their communities and build workforce programs is an important investment.

$235 million to expand Registered Apprenticeship opportunities.

This represents an increase of $50 million from FY 2021 levels. The Act targets funding to state, regional, local, and intermediary efforts to expand Registered Apprenticeships to more industries beyond construction and ensure apprenticeship opportunities are available to more people from underrepresented populations, such as women and people of color. According to U.S. Department of Labor data, only about 9 percent of apprentices are women, and nearly 60 percent of apprentices are white. Two-thirds of apprentices are in construction, while just 6 percent are in manufacturing, 2 percent are in health care, and less than 1 percent are in financial services. Continued federal investment in Registered Apprenticeships is needed to change these statistics and support ongoing work by equity and industry intermediaries to expand apprenticeships to growing industries and underserved populations.

$2.5 million for grants under the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations Act.

On top of funding to expand Registered Apprenticeships, these grants go to community-based organizations working to ensure the success of women in apprenticeship programs by developing pre-apprenticeship programs, providing supportive services, and securing other forms of assistance.

A $400 increase in the Pell Grant.

This is the largest increase for Pell—a key source of need-based financial aid—in more than a decade, bringing the maximum for the 2022-2023 school year to $6,895. Advocates have long called for a doubling of the program, and the Biden administration has called proposals to increase Pell “down payments” on a campaign promise to do so.

The package also includes increases in funding for the Federal Work Study, TRIO, GEAR UP, and a number of other programs that disproportionately support underserved students and communities.

$65 million in spending for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program.

This spending is a $10 million dollar increase from the FY 2021 funding level. The Act also lifts the cap on CCAMPIS grants, allowing additional funds to flow to institutions to support high-quality campus-based child care programs. Earlier this year, 51 organizations, including New America, urged appropriators to increase funding for CCAMPIS to $500 million. With parenting students representing one in five of today’s college students, the increase in spending is a good first step to meeting campus child care needs.

$8 million for Basic Needs Grants.

These grants prioritize community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and schools with high percentages of Pell recipients. Grantees must use the funds for activities like supporting access to, encouraging participation in, and reducing or eliminating costs for temporary housing, food, and on-campus child care. The package also directs schools to help students apply for and access public assistance programs.

$885 million for Minority Serving Institutions.

This is a $96 million bump for schools, including HBCUs, HSIs, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. Congress also provided higher education institutions with increased flexibility for spending down funds received from the three different rounds of emergency funds for higher education. These funds—from the CARES Act, The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, and the American Rescue Plan of 2021 Act—can now be used to fund property purchases or construction, providing that it is related to coronavirus response. These flexibilities fall short of what some institutions, particularly historically underfunded HBCUs, advocated for, including the flexibility to use remaining emergency response funds to cover decades of deferred maintenance costs and other much-needed upgrades to campus facilities.

More than $2 billion for student aid administration.

This funding—$180 million more than FY 2021—covers programs like federal student loan servicing, among others, and is critical to supporting the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) plans for the future of servicing. Given the delayed progress in implementing a new servicing environment, the Act requires FSA to submit detailed plans and progress updates to Congress. It also adjusts the implementation timeline for the FAFSA Simplification Act to ensure a smooth transition as the Department works on a larger overhaul to federal financial aid.

Establishment of a $5 million Postsecondary Student Success Grant program.

The creation of these grants, with dollars allocated under the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) programs, is an important first step to support evidence-based practices to improve college retention and completion rates. The latest data show that only 62 percent of students at four-year colleges and universities graduate within six years, and only 33 percent of students at two-year colleges graduate within three years. While researchers understand which practices support student persistence and completion—and several programs have track records of improving student outcomes—implementing these practices and scaling these programs will require significant investment. The grants will incentivize colleges and universities to establish and sustain evidence-based practices and programs, such as the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at the City University of New York, to help more students succeed.

A new pooled evaluation authority.

This provision, similar to one that exists for the elementary and secondary school system under the Every Student Succeeds Act, allows the Department of Education, with a few exceptions, to use up to 0.5 percent of appropriated funds to evaluate higher education-related programs. This could allow the Department to combine funds and set priorities for evaluation.

These much-needed resources for students, institutions, and communities are complements to other, ongoing regulatory and administrative initiatives to support low-income families, students of color, first-generation and older students, veterans, and other traditionally marginalized groups. Going forward, additional investments are needed to fully promote equity, ensure schools are affordable and students have the resources they need to graduate, allow access to training opportunities as students enter the workforce, and hold bad actors accountable when they defraud students and taxpayers.

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