Biden skinny budget proposal includes increases for Pell Grant

April 14, 2021 12:07 pm

On April 9, President Joe Biden sent a letter to congressional leadership outlining his request for FY22 discretionary spending. The “skinny budget” includes investments in public health, the economy, the climate crisis, advancing equity, restoring America’s global standing and confronting 21st century security challenges. A formal budget request is expected in May. The 58 page request can be found here.

The $1.5 trillion budget includes a 40 percent increase in education spending and an increase for health but provides little detail about allocations to specific higher education programs, apart from a recommendation for an increase to the Pell Grant. Overall, the budget represents an 8.4 percent increase over the current fiscal year. The proposed budget also requests significant increases for federal research investments, including increases for: the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy Office of Science, NASA, and climate research across several federal agencies. It also proposes funding for the creation of two new federal research agencies -- ARPA-H on health research and ARPA-C on climate-related science -- modeled on the Department of Defense’s DARPA.

Financial Aid: The budget would increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $400 to approximately $7,000 in FY22. It also proposes making Pell Grants available to DACA recipients. The proposal notes that the investment in the Pell Grant program “is one piece of a more comprehensive proposal to double the maximum Pell Grant.”

Research and development: The request includes: 

  • $15 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 17 percent increase from the FY21 enacted level; 
  • $10.2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 20 percent increase above FY21 ($8.5 billion). This level of funding would support $1.2 billion for climate and clean energy related research, increase by $100 million funding for programs that aim to increase participation of groups traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering, and establish a new Directorate for technology, innovation, and partnerships within NSF to help translate research into practical applications (no funding level is specified for the new directorate);
  • $46.1 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE), a $4.3 billion or 10.2 percent increase from FY 21 enacted level.

The President’s request prioritizes and increases investments in climate-related research across several federal agencies. The discretionary request proposes over $4 billion to fund a broad portfolio of research across multiple agencies including the Department of the Interior, NASA, the National Science Foundation and others to improve understanding of the changing climate and inform adaptation and resilience measures.

The President's request is silent on other student aid and student success programs such as the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work Study (FWS), TRIO, Title VI (International Education Programs), and the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN).

The request is also silent on the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH).

The Association of American Universities (AAU)’s overview of the proposal can be found here.