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 Senate Committee Restores ATB Eligibility 

6/15/2012

FY 2013 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill marked up; Eligibility for some ATB students restored

On a party-line vote, Senate appropriators approved their FY 2013 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. The legislation increases the Pell Grant maximum to $5,635 for the award year that starts July 1, 2013, and maintains level funding for most other student aid and workforce training programs.

The committee also adopted an amendment authored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that provides Pell Grant eligibility for ability-to-benefit (ATB) students in specific career pathways programs. AACC had made restoration of ATB student eligibility a top priority after it was eliminated in last year’s funding legislation. It marks a tremendous achievement, and AACC is grateful to Senator Murray for her leadership. That said, this is not yet law—the amendment will have to be accepted by the House later this year.

The legislation also includes important legislative language. It would

  • Prohibit colleges and universities from using federal educational resources to fund marketing, recruitment, and advertising—a provision clearly directed at for-profit institutions.
  • Eliminate the cost of room and board from the cost of attendance for Pell Grants for programs that are 100% online—this could have a disproportionately negative impact on community colleges.
  • Eliminate the interest subsidy for federal Stafford loans for borrowers who remain in school beyond 150% of their normal program length.

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) and Federal Work-Study would be level-funded at $735 million and $977 million, respectively. Funding for TRIO and GEAR UP would be preserved at their current levels of $840 million and $302 million. Carl D. Perkins Basic State Grants would be funded at $1.12 billion and Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants would be funded at $595 million. Similarly, the Senate bill preserves the current funding levels for the HEA Titles III and V programs. It does provide a small increase for international education and foreign language programs under Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, from $74 million to $75.7 million.

In addition, the bill provides $40 million for the administration’s “First in the World” competitive grant program, as proposed in its FY 2013 budget. This program would allow higher education institutions to develop, test, and scale up effective approaches to education, with funds reserved for minority-serving institutions.

Most of the Department of Labor’s workforce training programs are also level-funded, including $2.6 billion for training and employment services grants to states and $50 million for the Workforce Innovation Fund.

It is not clear when, or even if, this legislation will be considered by the full Senate. The House Labor-HHS-ED subcommittee is tentatively scheduled to mark up its FY 2013 bill next week. That subcommittee’s allocation is more than $7 billion below the Senate’s, and the markup may have some discouraging results.

For more information, contact David Baime (dbaime@aacc.nche.edu), Vice President for Government Relations and Research, or Laurie Quarles (lquarles@aacc.nche.edu), Legislative Associate. 

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