President Biden’s Budget Proposal Supports Borrowers and Invests in Minority Serving Institutions
As members of Congress prepare to negotiate the federal budget for fiscal year 2024 (FY24), the Biden-Harris Administration released its budget proposal outlining key priorities that the Administration hopes to see reflected in upcoming appropriations bills. While budget proposals are not law, they are often seen as a guide for Congress as they think through budget allocations.
Overall, this year’s budget proposal requests an increase to the Education Department’s spending by $10.8 billion, representing a 13.6 percent increase from the 2023 enacted level. The budget increase reflects an investment in institutions that serve students of color and support for student borrowers through the modernization and simplification of the financial aid process. AccessLex released a statement in support of the FY24 budget proposal and below is a breakdown of the critical provisions that impact higher education.
Mitigate Inequity by Investing in Minority Serving Institutions
Investing in minority serving institutions has been an ongoing priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. For Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which play an outsized role in educating Black postsecondary students, leveling the funding playing field would help to remedy the inequities that have plagued them for decades. In that spirit, since taking office, each of President Biden’s budget proposals has aimed to increase funding to these institutions in historic ways. For FY24, the Administration proposes to:
- Provide two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 who are enrolled in a four-year HBCUs, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
- Provide a $429 million increase above the 2023 enacted level to increase institutional capacity and expand research and development infrastructure.
Invest in the Financial Aid Infrastructure to Enhance Services for Student Borrowers
As the world modernizes, so too must the services and financial aid infrastructure provided to student borrowers. In recent years, legislation like the FAFSA Simplification Act and the FUTURE Act, which simplify and improve the financial aid process, have taken that task head on, with this year’s budget request seeking funding for the final phase of these improvements. Specifically, the budget proposal seeks to provide the Office of Federal Student Aid with an increase of $620 million above 2023 enacted levels to improve student loan servicing, update technology, simplify and streamline financial aid programs, and support student loan borrowers as they return to repayment.
Work with Congress to Strengthen Higher Education Access
As was done last year, President Biden rounded out his budget proposal with a call to action for Congress to work with the Administration to reform the student loan process so that it is more effective and efficient. While a full-scale reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is unlikely during this Congress, there may be opportunities to pass smaller bills that make policy changes that have bipartisan support.
The next step in the budget process will be for the House and Senate to pass a budget resolution which will set the spending and revenue limits to use as they go forward with the annual appropriations process. The deadline for Congress to pass all twelve appropriations bills and have them signed by the President is September 30, 2023.
Read more about our positions on recent legislation and regulations and our recommendations regarding the Higher Education Act.