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Omnibus Impacts: Moving in the Right Direction? | Inside Higher Ed


This year, I think I’m going to take a lesson from the book of education experts like Diane Ravitch who writes throughout the day at her blog.

I probably won’t have the time or inclination to blog multiple times in a day but knowing that it is a current practice from the likes of Ravitch and Susan Orlean is inspiring. 

So, let me begin by responding to this piece from Jon Edelman that was published last week in Diverse. The focus is on impacts to higher ed from the recent omnibus federal spending bill and includes insight from some amazing women who have dedicated their careers to sharing knowledge: Dominique Baker, Marybeth Gasman, and Sandy Baum. 

So, what do they see for higher ed in this bill?

  • Pell grant increases. Biden proposed an increase by over $2k. The bill raises it by $500 – the largest increase in more than ten years. 

  • $137 million increase for historically under-resourced institutions, including HBCUs and other minority serving institutions (MSIs).

  • An additional $50 million for infrastructure improvements at MSIs. 

  • $45 million for the Postsecondary Student Success Program for students who have started a credential. 

  • $1.2 billion (a $54 million increase) for TRIO programs, which include Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Student Support Service.

  • $75 million (a $10 million increase) for Child Care Access Means Parents in School, which subsidizes childcare for low-income students.

  • An interesting change in retirement law impacts those of us repaying student loans. Employees repaying student loans will now qualify for matching funds from employers because their student loan repayments will count as contributions to retirement plans.

I would love to hear more from readers on this last item and how it came about. I often coach young graduates on the importance of contributing to retirement funds when they are in their 20s and 30s and they respond with the bind of student loan repayments so this change seems like a very creative step in the right direction.

Additionally, I am thrilled to see increased support for historically under-served populations and under-resourced institutions. It is not enough but it is a move in the right direction. 

One of my dreams is to see K-12 and Higher Ed collaborate to make year 13 free. I think of this when I think of those who were in high school in March 2020 when everything shut down. How do we make up for the “learning loss” of those young people who have already graduated from high school, who stopped out during the pandemic, or who are chronically absent from school? Can year 13 help them get a high school diploma and 30 credits towards an associate’s degree at the same time? (More on this in another post). 

Send me an email at [email protected] if you want to connect on this or any other item and if you are willing to do a Q&A with me, I’ll even offer to publish it here at the Higher Ed Policy blog. 

Happy 2023 folks and I look forward to connecting more often and more informally here at Inside Higher Ed. 

 

Mary Churchill is professor of the practice and director of the higher education administration program at Boston University, where she also serves as associate dean. She is co-author of When Colleges Close: Leading in a Time of Crisis.

 



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