On Friday, Nov. 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, which includes the following substantial investments in higher education.
The Build Back Better Act provides a $550 increase to the maximum Pell grant, available to students attending public and private non-profit institutions. The bill also makes Dreamers eligible for Pell Grants, as well as other Title IV federal aid. The bill includes a modest $500 million investment in a new College Completion Fund.
An additional $6 billion is included to boost funding for Title III programs that support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The bill further provides $3 billion for a Research and Development Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program for HBCUs and other MSIs.
The bill includes a provision that would build on the FAFSA Simplification Act changes to aid determination; allowing FAFSA applicants that have benefited from a Federal means-tested program in the past 24 months to automatically qualify for a Student Aid Index of -$1,500, which would boost their maximum Pell award.
Funding for a range of teacher preparation competitive grant programs was also included in the bill, including grants to support Native American language teachers and early childhood educators.
The Build Back Better Act also provides investments in several agency research programs. The bill provides $3.5 billion for NSF, including: $1.5 billion to help launch a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnership, $200 million for building research capacity, $100 million for research infrastructure at HBCUs and MSIs, and $100 million for mid- scale research infrastructure. This funding includes $25 million to support the wildfire research and resilience and improve wildfire-fighting operations through new and existing programs.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) provided a detailed summary of the legislation prior to its passage, which can be found here.
The legislation now heads to the Senate, where revisions to the bill are anticipated.