President signs two-year budget deal –
President Trump signed a sweeping two-year budget agreement on Aug. 2 that lifts the federal borrowing limit and increases spending. The threat of default was removed for the 2020 elections, and the new law suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021.
Budget deal some good news for higher ed –
There is some good news for higher education in this agreement, specifically related to increases in federal grant programs included in the House FY 2020 spending bill. Here’s a recap:
- Increases the Pell Grant maximum by $150 to $6,345
- Increases the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) total by $188 million to $1 billion
- Increases Federal Work Study by $304 million to $1.4 billion
- Increases TRIO by $100 million to $1.1 billion
- Increases GEAR UP by $35 million to $395 million.
There’s a “but.” The new, lifted cap is still $10 billion less than what was allocated in the House bill for “non-defense spending.” The Senate will start writing its spending bills in September, with $10 billion less to work with. It’s not yet clear where it will reduce spending to fall within the cap.
Higher Education Reauthorization Act update –
Time is running out for getting the Higher Education Act Reauthorization drafted, introduced, and passed by Congress this year, especially with other issues – like health care – creating the potential of crowding it out.
However, staff continue to work on the bill and you never know when it might suddenly pop out. With that in mind, our colleagues at NAICU are being very vigilant in monitoring any developments. Most recently they’ve become very concerned with what appears to be a bipartisan initiative to permit extending Federal Pell Grant eligibility to certain short-term programs, such as certificates. We fear prospective students will expend Pell Grant funding on these programs of dubious quality, depriving them of resources to attend an independent college or university.
Title IX –
The White House had set a September deadline for final Title IX regulations. That informal deadline has slipped to October, which, considering there were more than 100,000 responses to the proposed regulations, still seems unrealistic.
NAICU staff have been told that when the regulations are finally published, they will include a long period for implementation, giving campuses lead-time to adapt.
Supreme Court to Hear DACA Case –
During its upcoming term which starts in October, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the legality of the Trump Administration’s actions regarding the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The Court will actually be consolidating three different cases in which federal judges blocked the administration from terminating the DACA program, though DACA had been created by Executive Order.
By South Carolina law, DACA students are not permitted to receive support from state scholarship and grant programs.