Federal Relations

December 8, 2010

Pell Grant Fix in House CR (Updated)

**12/9 Update A year-long CR passed the House on 12/8. The legislation includes $5.7 billion to close a shortfall in the Pell Grant program. The process now continues in the Senate. CR Summary**

The House of Representatives is preparing two options for a closeout of the FY11 appropriations process. One option is a year-long continuing resolution (CR) that would fund most government operations at FY10 levels. The CR would generally be a negative outcome for the research agencies and programs that UW depends on. If an amendment to the CR now under consideration in the House is successful, at least one positive outcome is possible for the higher education community. The amendment contains exceptions to level funding, including $5.7 billion to fill a shortfall in the Pell Grant program. Inclusion of the Pell exception in a CR would prevent an estimated 15% cut in award levels for the 2011-12 academic year. The second — more desirable — option for concluding the FY11 process is completion of the spending measures that Congress has been working on this year through a packaging of the bills. The package, known as an omnibus, would allow for increases to agencies of interest such as NIH and NSF. Some reports from the Hill indicate that NIH stands to receive a $750 million increase in an omnibus package. Additionally, the Pell shortfall could also be addressed through an omnibus. The ultimate decision rests with the Senate and will likely be known by December 18th when the current temporary CR expires.

A recently released CR Fact Sheet captures the Pell provision:

Pell Grants
The CR provides $5.7 billion to fund a shortfall in the federal Pell grant tuition-aid program estimated for the 2011-12 academic year. The shortfall is due to more students with greater need becoming eligible for grants in a struggling economy.

The increase would maintain the existing $5,550 maximum award, including a discretionary amount of $4,680 and a mandatory supplement of $690.

The measure also adjusts funding to allow the Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid to maintain services to students and families in implementing the transition to 100% direct student lending mandated by law.