House Bill Includes Cuts to Pell, Bars Gainful Employment Enforcement
Members of the House Appropriations Committee are calling for tightened restrictions on college students’ Pell Grant eligibility and moving to prohibit the Department of Education from using federal dollars to enforce the gainful employment rule, intended to keep for-profit colleges accountable.
The proposals come in the committee’s draft bill [PDF] of a fiscal 2012 budget for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments. Overall, the draft bill includes a $4 billion decrease in appropriations. But, as Politico notes, the Republican-led committee is agreeing to restore $14.2 billion to areas that previously saw reduced budgets, including Title 1 and special education programs.
Under the proposed allocations, the Pell program would see a roughly $3 billion decrease in funding—but $8 billion less than President Obama requested.
In order to keep the maximum Pell Grant available at $5,550, the committee recommended making the eligibility requirements stricter—a move that threatens to exclude low-income college students from vital federal funding for higher education. This includes making Pell funding unavailable to "students who who attend school less than half time or students who do not have a high school diploma or GED,” according to a release from the committee.
Education Department officials would also be barred from enforcing the gainful employment rule, passed to help ensure for-profit colleges don’t leave students saddled with excessive debt and without employment options.
The committee also suggested completely eliminating the “Race to the Top” program backed by President Obama, and more than 30 other educational programs.
The draft bill also suggests:
- Cutting funding for National Public Radio
- Eliminating federal funds for Planned Parenthood
- Prohibits the National Labor Relations Board from enforcing new regulations on union elections
- Blocking healthcare reforms and revoking $8.6 billion in appropriations under the Affordable Care Act
Brian Stewart is the communications manager at Campus Progress.
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