This morning, the United States House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act. The $1.7 trillion legislation includes $20 billion in funding for higher education that will have a positive impact on students across the country.
Pell Grant Increase and Expansion to Dreamers
The most significant higher education provision included is a $550 increase to the maximum Pell Grant. This will be the largest increase to the Pell Grant in a decade. This would have a major impact on college affordability for over 110,000 Minnesota Pell Grant recipients. Pell Grant eligibility will also be expanded to DACA students until 2030. In addition, students attending for-profit institutions will be excluded from this increase.
College Completion and Retention Grants
$500 million in funding for a five-year College Completion and Retention grant program was included to help boost graduation rates and student outcomes at colleges across the country. This funding would allow colleges to implement programs like the CUNY Accelerated Studies in Associates Program, which have nearly doubled graduation rates for students of every racial category. In 2019, LeadMN worked to introduce legislation at the state level which would have funded an ASAP program at every community and technical college in the state.
Investments in HBCU’s, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions
$10 billion in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions was included. This is the single largest investment in these institutions ever made. Minnesota has at least five community and technical colleges who are considered Minority Serving Institutions, and multiple universities.
While not directly related to higher education, other provisions contained in the Build Back Better Act would significantly impact the 1 in 4 college students who are parents. These include:
- Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds. This funding would last for six years.
- A one year expansion of the Child Tax Credits which provide parents with $300 every month per child under age six and $250 every month per child ages six to 17.
- A cap on childcare costs for families with children younger than age 6 to no more than 7% of their income for those earning up to 250% of state median income.
The Build Back Better Act will now go to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Schumer has expressed a goal of passing the legislation by Christmas. It is likely that some of the non-higher education provisions could be changed or removed before it is able to pass the Senate.