Biden Higher Education Budget Highlights: Pell Increase, Federal Student Aid and Free Community College

The Biden Administration’s fiscal year 2024 budget includes proposals to increase funding for the Pell Grant and several other initiatives focused on free community college and expanded federal student aid.

One of the primary focuses of the budget proposal is increasing the Pell Grant by $820 to bring the maximum total award to $8,215. This would be the third increase to the annual Pell Grant, which has already increased by $900 over the last three years.

The administration believes Pell Grants are a key component of making college more affordable and have stated their goal of doubling the maximum award by 2029. 

In addition to increased Pell Grant funding, the U.S. Department of Higher Education (DOE) budget proposal includes several other items, including:

  • $90 billion over 10 years to renew free community college
  • $620 million for additional federal student aid
  • $500 million to jump-start free community college effort
  • $429 million to under-resourced institutions
  • $335 million for apprenticeships in certain industries such as construction and clean energy
  • $200 million to connect high school students to community colleges and potential employees through dual enrollment, work-based learning and career advising
  • $165 million more for student success grant programs
  • $150 million for mental health programs on college campuses
  • $100 million to help community colleges partner with employers to develop training models
  • Tuition subsidy of up to $4,500 per year for two years for qualifying students

In total, the Education department would see approximately $10.8 billion more in discretionary funds under the budget proposal, which represents nearly a 14% increase from the current federal budget.

The administration believes these increases will help make quality higher education more affordable and result in an education system that grows the middle class, drives the economy forward and prepares highly-skilled students for the workforce.

While critics say the increased spending will only add to the mounting federal deficit, the administration believes that the budget’s new proposed set of tax increases will decrease the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade.

It should be noted that the budget request assumes the student loan forgiveness plan moves forward – an assumption that may prove short-sighted given the uncertainty of the Supreme Court cases surrounding it.

The proposed budget is not approved and will likely face intense scrutiny in the House from both sides.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the potential budget changes within higher education, please contact our team at [email protected].

About Schneider Downs Higher Education Services

The Schneider Downs Higher Education industry group is a dedicated team of experienced professionals specializing in serving institutions from high schools to universities. Our experience in audit and assurance, tax advisory, technology and data and more allow our professionals to stay ahead of the latest trends, developments and challenges within the education sector and provide timely and practical solutions to our clients.  

To learn more, visit our Higher Education Industry Group page.


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