FY15 Federal Budget Update

The U.S. Senate gave final passage on Saturday to an overdue spending bill for the 2015 fiscal year that provides modest increases for higher education research, while holding education spending mostly flat.  The bill, combining 11 complete bills with one continuing resolution (CR) for Homeland Security, averts a government shutdown and finances most of the federal government through September 30. The Department of Homeland Security, which provides some research money to universities, was funded on a shorter-term basis, until February 27th.

Funding for most federal student aid programs held steady, with some cuts and a few increases:
  • While Pell Grant funding was cut by $303-million, shifting most of that money into student-loan servicing, the maximum Pell award will still increase by $100, to $5,830, in the coming year;
  • The SEOG program is level funded at $733 million;
  • The Federal Work Study program received a $15 million increase, to $990 million; 
  • The TRIO college preparatory program increased by $1.5 million, to $840 million;
  • GEAR UP is level funded at $302 million;
  • Graduate is level funded at $29 million; and
  • First in the World is cut $15 million, to $60 million.
Additional language in the bill’s report covers a lot of areas of interest to our state’s independent colleges and universities.   For example:
  • Language requires the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) to report to the Appropriations Committees enrollment and graduation information for Pell Grant recipients from the National Student Loan Data System for Students, which began in the 2012-13 award year;
  • Within the amount for Student Aid Administration, ED is expected to continue its efforts to prevent sexual violence on campus;
  • An update is requested on the interagency task force on oversight of for-profit colleges in the FY 2016 budget justification;
  • An update is requested on the implementation of the expanded student complaint system in the FY 2016 budget justification;
  • Within FIPSE, $2.5 million is provided for the National Center for Information and Technical Support for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities;
  • Within FIPSE, $5 million for the Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success; and $250,000 for a database contract;
  • ED is encouraged to continue incentivizing institutions to develop and test competency-based education as an alternative method for delivery financial aid;
  • Funding is increased for the Office of Civil Rights to help ensure educational institutions are protecting students from sexual violence; and
  • New provision is provided reinstating ATB (ability-to-benefit) student aid eligibility for students enrolled in career pathways programs at community colleges.
Higher education will definitely be on the agenda in the next session of Congress as members consider the reauthorization of the higher education act. CCIC will monitor and report on the action.

Matter of Fact

Join us for the 2015 Member Forum on January 13, 2015

On Campus 

Trinity Buys Into Downtown Hartford Scene
Downtown Hartford got a big boost on the "ed" front this week when Trinity College became the winning bidder for the former Travelers Education Center building on Constitution Plaza.

Fairfield University Opens New Lab for Aerospace, Biomed, Science
Fairfield University’s School of Engineering has opened a Materials Characterization Laboratory that is helping prepare students to work in the aerospace, bio-medical, and materials industries, among many other science and engineering fields. The new lab is benefiting not only the School of Engineering, but also the School of Nursing, and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Quinnipiac University announces creation of the Center for Women & Business
The School of Business has created a new center dedicated to addressing the unique leadership and professional needs of women. The center's goals include executive education, professional development, networking, professional support, mentoring and research while also establishing partnerships with the external business community.


Higher Education Headlines

Spending Bill Holds Scant, if Any, Increases for Education and Research
The U.S. Senate gave final passage on Saturday to an overdue spending bill for the 2015 fiscal year that provides modest increases for research, while holding education spending mostly flat.

U.S. Wants Teacher Training Programs to Track How Graduates’ Students Perform
The federal Department of Education recently announced preliminary rules requiring states to develop rating systems for teacher preparation programs that would track a range of measures, including the job placement and retention rates of graduates and the academic performance of their students.

Hartford Makes White House Pledge To Get More Students To College
Pledging to get more students to college, city school administrators on Thursday said they planned to raise the rate of Hartford graduates who enroll in post-secondary education to 70 percent by November 2015.

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