September 9, 2016
Dear Member of Congress:
On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 117 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, we urge you to quickly pass a short-term continuing resolution before the fiscal year ends on September 30. It is vital to take action to prevent a government shutdown, but then Congress must quickly pass full-year appropriations legislation that provides needed investments in education. A continuing resolution that goes beyond December would abdicate Congress’s responsibility to make program-by-program decisions to ensure that high-priority and effective federal programs are adequately funded.
We recognize the challenge of passing funding bills given the tight spending caps for fiscal year 2017, which is why CEF continues to strongly urge Congress to eliminate the austerity-level discretionary caps. However, education programs and other federal services need the certainty of knowing their funding level as they plan for and meet national needs. A long-term continuing resolution would deny students, schools and colleges the opportunity to benefit from any targeted funding increases.
Education funding, though only 2 percent of the federal budget, has been a target of deep cuts since January 2011. On the discretionary side of the budget, funding for programs exclusive of Pell grants for fiscal year 2016 is $1.3 billion below the level provided for fiscal year 2010. Congress has already eliminated 50 education programs during that period, focusing the remaining funding on programs of high need.
Educational attainment is strongly tied to both individual success and the nation’s economic strength. We urge Congress to continue working to advance the resources necessary to implement the best possible opportunities for students, their families, and our nation, and to finalize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 as soon as possible.
July 12, 2016
Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:
On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 116 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, we are writing to voice our concerns regarding the Labor- HHS-Education appropriations bill that was passed out of the Subcommittee on July 7th. We are keenly aware of the difficult budget limitations the Subcommittee endeavored to balance, and commend your leadership in moving the appropriations process forward. CEF continues to emphasize the importance of eliminating the discretionary funding caps, as robust investment in education is essential to our nation’s economic viability.
We recognize that some programs received modest increases, and we are encouraged by the level of funding allocated for ESSA’s new Title IV block grant but we also acknowledge the limited additional investments to IDEA grants, Impact Aid, Indian Education, TRIO, and GEAR UP. We strongly believe that these nominal investments are insufficient to fund the full array of programs necessary to help students attain their full potential. Furthermore, while we are pleased the Committee retained the funding from the now eliminated School
Improvement Grants (SIG) program and moves it through the Title I formula, we remain concerned that such an allocation still translates into a $200 million shortfall at the local district level.
CEF is deeply worried about the $1.3 billion that was taken from the Pell Grant reserve fund and the precedent that it sets, along with the cut to the Pell program’s annual appropriation. We were further disappointed by the lack of restoration of year-round Pell Grants, which was included in the Senate Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill earlier this year.
Finally, funding for numerous programs in this bill was reduced, frozen, or eliminated altogether. It was mentioned at the markup that there were “more than two dozen education programs that saw their funding reduced or completely eliminated in this bill.” This includes both the Magnet Schools Assistance program and the Education Innovation and Research program that have both been zeroed out, despite receiving tens of millions of dollars in FY 2016. The extensive negative impact of these budget decisions is avoidable by lifting the caps that are causing pressing funding constraints.
We strongly urge Congress to eliminate the discretionary caps in order to fund our nation’s education programs at adequate levels. Educational attainment is strongly tied to individual success and the growth, vitality, and innovation of our nation’s economic strength. Congress must work toward advancing the resources necessary to provide the best possible opportunities for students, their families, and our country.
June 8, 2016
Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:
On behalf of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition of 116 national education associations and institutions spanning early learning to postgraduate education, we write to express our encouragement by the effort that produced the first bi-partisan Labor-HHS budget to come out of the subcommittee in seven years. We are keenly aware of the difficult budget limitations and priorities you both endeavored to balance, and commend your leadership in moving the budget process forward.
While CEF appreciates that some currently authorized programs received modest increases, we are deeply concerned over the $1.2 billion that was taken from the Pell Grant reserve fund and the precedent that it sets. We continue to emphasize the importance of eliminating the discretionary funding caps, as adequate investment in education is essential to our nation’s economic viability. While we acknowledge limited additional investments in Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies, IDEA grants, Impact Aid, and Charter School funding, we are concerned such nominal investments will not be enough as all are critical components in helping students attain their full education potential.
Additionally, while the proposed Title I level is $50 million above the combined FY 2016 level for Title I and School Improvement Grants (SIG), it still represents a cut at the local level. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) absorbed SIG into Title I and increased the school improvement set-aside from 4% to 7%. Thus, even with the additional $50 million provided by your committee, $150 million will be cut from school district allocations, resulting in many school districts receiving a smaller initial Title I allocation than they did in FY 2016.
We would also like to express our concern with the $300 million appropriation for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG) under Title IV, Part A of ESSA, which is a funding level well below the $1.65 billion authorization level established in ESSA. This appropriation level only reflects funding for the programs that were funded in FY16 and consolidated into the bill, even though the activities under the new block grant are far broader than those that were funded––including the effective use of technology, safe and healthy school programs, and well-rounded education programs. At this funding level, many schools will be unable to make meaningful investments in the programs that provide children with a safe and enriched learning environment, critical to their success and achievement.
CEF supports the restoration of year-round Pell grants, as well as the funding necessary to increase the maximum Pell grant from $5,815 for the 2016-2017 school year to an estimated $5,935 for the 2017-2018 school year. Despite this increased investment, however, the bill underfunds several higher education programs that are equally as important to the postsecondary success of America’s students. In particular, we wish to highlight the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, which provide supportive services to ensure access and success for low-income, first-generation college students; campus-based aid programs, like Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study, which provide additional funds to help students and families bear the cost of college; and funding to support Minority-Serving Institutions, which help shore up the infrastructure and operations of institutions dedicated to educating students of color.
We continue to urge Congress to eliminate the discretionary caps in order to fund our nation’s education programs at an adequate level. Educational attainment is strongly tied to both individual success and the growth, vitality, and innovation of our nation’s economic strength. We urge Congress to continue to work toward advancing the resources necessary to implement the best possible opportunities for students, their families, and our nation.
CEF’s annual Education Budget Response is the most comprehensive source available on how vital federal education programs improve the lives of millions of Americans.
The Budget Response is a useful source for information on federal education programs, but there are resources even more valuable: the authors and contacts listed within, who invite you to find out more about the programs described here and the lives of the people these programs touch.
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