“The power of the purse is one of Congress’ greatest duties, and we will continue to work on the appropriations bills that remain,” Foxx said.
Although Foxx chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee and is a former professor at Appalachian State University, she has historically opposed funding for the Department of Education and instead highlighted the increased funding for the Department of Defense.
“The bill also provides a well-deserved pay raise to our country’s selfless warfighters — the largest increase in nine years,” Foxx said.
She went on to praise the bill’s allocation of $8.8 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to assist with Hurricane Florence relief.
Jenna Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, addressed the increases in funding for the Department of Education.
“The bill funds the Department of Education at nearly $71 billion,” Robinson said. “Which is $43 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. Most of the increase will go to K-12 programs.”
The law also increased funding for career, technical and adult education programs by about $115 million over fiscal year 2018.
“This demonstrates Congress' commitment to education that connects students to the demands of the economy,” Robinson said.
Robinson also pointed out areas of the law that would increase funding for college financial aid.
“The bill increased funding for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs — which help first-generation college students prepare for, enter and complete college — by $50 million and $10 million, respectively,” Robinson said. “Total funding for TRIO programs is now $1.06 billion and GEAR UP is now $360 million.”
Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, commented on the impact of the education funding on financial aid programs.
“Investments in the Pell grant program are investments in our nation’s students and our nation’s future,” Cooper said.
For students receiving Pell grants, caps on individual grants may also increase as soon as the 2019-2020 aid cycle, Cooper said. The law includes a $100 increase to the maximum Pell grant award, for a total of $6,195.
“This increase would help to keep at bay further decreases in the grant’s purchasing power, but it falls short of making an impactful investment in our nation’s students in need as college costs continue to rise,” Robinson concluded.
Robinson emphasized the benefit of evaluating the Second Chance Pell pilot program experimental sites, which studies the impact of providing financial aid for the education of incarcerated students. She cited IHEP research linking postsecondary education access for incarcerated individuals to decreased rates of recidivism.
“We applaud policy solutions aimed at supporting this underserved and largely understudied student population," Robinson said.