2022 NPS Background Materials
Department of Education
- Department of Education Website
- Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education Website
- Perkins Data Explorer
- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Bio
- ACTE Blog Post: President Biden Nominates Dr. Amy Loyd to Serve as OCTAE Assistant Secretary
- ACTE Blog Post: Secretary of Education Describes Department of Education Priorities
Congress operates under a fiscal year that runs from October 1 – September 30. The federal budget process usually begins each February when the president submits the Administration’s budget request to Congress. This request is not binding, but it serves to outline the Administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and Congress may use it as a blueprint in crafting its own budget.
The House and Senate Budget Committees are responsible for developing the congressional budget. These committees study the president’s proposals, along with requests from other committees and Members of Congress, and put together their own “budget resolution.” The budget resolution sets a “spending ceiling” for each broad budget category. There are 17 major categories for which the Budget Committees recommend spending ceilings. CTE and workforce development programs are part of the category known as “Function 500 – Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services.” The budget resolution has no binding authority over specific program funding levels, but the higher the total funding levels in the budget resolution, the higher the likelihood of increases for programs such as Perkins, HEA, WIOA and ESSA.
Once the budget resolution has been agreed upon and passed by both chambers of Congress, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees begin the work of setting specific funding levels for individual programs, including Perkins, through appropriations bills. The 12 annual appropriations bills are designated to subcommittees within the appropriations committees. Funding decisions concerning CTE, other education programs and workforce development are made in the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
If approved at the committee level, the funding bills are then considered by the full House and Senate, with any differences between the two versions reconciled by a conference committee. Often many of the larger and more controversial appropriations bills are not completed on time, and Congress must pass a “continuing resolution” (CR) to continue program funding at current levels until a new appropriations bill can be passed.
Congress was not able to complete work on FY 2022 appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Instead, they passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep funding at current levels, first through mid December and then mid-February, and again through March.
On March 8, congressional leaders finally released the negotiated text of the long-overdue Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 appropriations omnibus package. The bill was then passed by the House and Senate, and it was ultimately signed into law on March 15. The omnibus bill includes a $45 million increase for the Perkins Basic State Grant. While larger investments in CTE are still needed, this bill offers more than what the President requested and continues the steady increase in Perkins funding since 2017. Overall, the omnibus proposes $1.5 trillion in spending, including a 5.6% increase over FY 2021 in defense-related spending and a 6.7% increase for non-defense spending. You can read more about the bill on ACTE’s blog here.
Now that the FY 2022 process is complete, work will begin on FY 2023 funding–a process that is already delayed.
Check out these resources to learn more about the federal funding process:
- CTE Policy Watch Blog: Federal Funding Posts
- FY 2021 Perkins State Allocations
- CRS Report: Introduction to the Federal Budget Process
- Federal Budget Timeline
- Upcoming Congressional Fiscal Policy Deadlines
- Policy Basics: Non-Defense Discretionary Programs
- Coalition for Education Funding’s FY 22 Budget Book
In April 2021, the Biden Administration announced two proposals that contain billions of dollars in new investments in education and workforce development-related programs. The first of the two, the American Jobs Plan, was focused primarily on new infrastructure-related investments, but education and workforce development were also a part of the American Jobs Plan proposal. First, the proposal suggested $100 billion, through a combination of direct grants and bonds, for K-12 school construction and modernization, including $12 billion for investments in community college infrastructure. An additional $100 billion was proposed for broadband expansion to help close the digital divide for students. Perhaps most importantly, the American Jobs Plan proposed approximately $100 billion for workforce development programs, including significant resources for CTE programs.
The second of the two plans, the American Families Plan, included additional education and workforce development-related provisions, including $109 billion to make community college tuition-free. The plan also suggested investing $85 billion in Pell grants to increase the maximum Pell grant award by roughly $1,400 and allow DREAMers to access Pell Grants. Other CTE-related provisions included $62 billion to invest in completion and retention activities at colleges and universities that serve high numbers of low-income students, particularly community colleges.
Following the release of the American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan, negotiations began over which pieces would be included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the total cost and programs that would be included in a separate bill that would be considered under a complicated procedural known as budget reconciliation. Budget reconciliation allows the majority party in Congress to pass a bill with a simple majority vote in the Senate, in this case allowing portions of President Biden’s domestic agenda to be advanced with only Democratic votes. The legislative package that emerged through the early stages of budget reconciliation negotiations contained elements of both the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, and was renamed the Build Back Better Act.
After committee work in the House and months of negotiations on the Build Back Better Act, a significant development came in late October 2021 when the White House announced its compromise framework for the Build Back Better Act and the House of Representatives released updated legislative text reflecting the most recent negotiations. Overall, that version of the Build Back Better Act totaled $1.75 trillion across policy proposals spanning from universal preschool to healthcare to clean energy and more.
While not as much as in the original $3.5 trillion proposal, the bill did provide considerable funding to CTE and workforce development. This included $600 million for the Perkins Basic State Grant program and $100 million for the Perkins Innovation and Modernization fund over about five years.
In addition to Perkins funding, the following workforce and higher education investments were included in the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act:
- $550 increase to the maximum Pell Grant; Expansion of Pell to DREAMers
- $5 billion for Community College and Industry Partnership Grants
- $2 billion for Dislocated Worker Employment & Training
- $1 billion for Adult Worker Employment & Training
- $1.5 billion for Youth Workforce Investment Activities
- $1 billion for Registered Apprenticeships, Youth Apprenticeships, and Pre-Apprenticeships
- $5 billion for Industry or Sector Partnership Grants
- $500 million for Postsecondary Completion and Retention Grants
- $425 million for the Health Profession Opportunity Grant program
- $300 million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund
- $113 million for Grow Your Own (GYO) Educator Preparation programs
- $700 million for Adult Education programs
- $1.2 billion for TAACCCT grants
On November 19, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act along party lines, paving the way for the bill to go through final negotiations in the Senate. Senate leaders had hoped to pass the bill before Christmas, but negotiations broke down as the holidays approached, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) specifically objecting to the bill’s passage in its current form. Currently, next steps in the process are uncertain.
ACTE and our partners at Advance CTE and in broader education and workforce coalitions have sent multiple letters to congressional leadership and called on members to contact Members of Congress in support of these critical investments in CTE and other workforce development and education programs in the final version of the bill, including the letter here.
The Senate continues to be at a stalemate on the Budget Reconciliation bill, although behind-the-scenes conversations continue. There have been some discussions about splitting the bill into multiple parts in order to move forward provisions that have broader support, but there is no timeline for consideration of these smaller bills or a larger legislative package. There are also discussions about rebranding any efforts on budget reconciliation, so the “Build Back Better” name is unlikely to be used going forward.
- Budget Reconciliation 101
- White House Build Back Better Framework
- Fact Sheet: The American Jobs Plan
- Fact Sheet: The American Families Plan
- House-passed Build Back Better Act Bill Text
- NPR Article: A $1.5 Trillion Question: What is Budget Reconciliation? Here’s an Explainer
- CQ Roll Call Video: How Does Budget Reconciliation Work?
Higher Education Act
The Higher Education Act (HEA) was first passed in 1965 and serves as the governing federal legislation for most postsecondary education issues. This law administers the vast majority of federal student aid, addresses teacher preparation and recruitment, collects data on colleges and universities, and enforces laws around privacy and civil rights. HEA was last reauthorized in 2008, making it long overdue for an update. The 2008 reauthorization made changes in student loan discharges for disabled people, combating copyright abuse, cost transparency, and other policies.
There have been numerous attempts to reauthorize HEA, however, none have come to any fruition. Given skyrocketing national student debt, both parties have sought to make proposals that address college affordability in different ways. Most recently, Democrats introduced the College Affordability Act in 2019 which sought to significant increase the maximum Pell grant award, expand dual enrollment opportunities, incentivize free community college, crack down on low-quality for-profit schools, provide wraparound services that promote college completion, and more.
Currently, there is little to no hope of an HEA reauthorization in 2022. The need to address the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of bipartisan consensus around a reauthorization have prevented HEA from being a major focus for the 117th Congress. That said, some Democratic members have introduced more piecemeal legislation that would reauthorize individual titles of HEA. For example, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced the EDUCATORS for America Act (S. 3360 /H.R. 6205) to attempt to reauthorize Title II of HEA, which addresses educator quality, recruitment, and retention. You can read about two other stand-alone bills below. While still very unlikely, passage of individual bills like these seems to be the only path forward for at least a partial reauthorization given the current political landscape.
Short-term Pell Grants
The Pell Grant was established in the Higher Education Act of 1965 to expand access to four-year colleges to students who may not otherwise be able to afford a postsecondary education. While the program has since been expanded to other postsecondary opportunities such as associate degrees and some certificates, shorter-term programs under 600 clock hours are not covered by Pell. These programs offer in-demand certifications, skills and credentials that can lead to better wages and career prospects. Additionally, these short-term programs play a critical role in narrowing the nation’s skills gap so that employers can find workers who possess the qualifications and training needed to fill these in-demand positions.
The primary bipartisan legislation to expand Pell grant eligibility to short-term programs is the JOBS Act, which has been re-introduced and negotiated every year since 2014. While this legislation has yet to pass, it has gained broad bipartisan support through careful negotiation led by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH). ACTE has publicly supported this bill and actively advocates for its passage.
The JOBS Act (S. 864/H.R. 2037) maintains bipartisan support with nearly half of the Senate and 42 House members co-sponsoring the bill across party lines. While previous attempts to include language from the JOBS Act in larger bills such as the Infrastructure & Jobs Act of 2021 and the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA) of 2021 failed, the House passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 with language similar to the JOBS Act included in February of 2022. This legislation will now go to conference committee with the Senate to negotiate the differences between the America COMPETES Act and USICA (the Senate version of the bill), which appears to be the best chance for short-term Pell to become law.
- Kaine/Portman Press Release: JOBS Act of 2021 Introduced
- ACTE Short Term Pell Infographic
- CTE Blog on House passage of America COMPETES Act
- Washington Monthly Article: Pell Grants Should Cover Good Short-Term Worker Training Programs
- Community College Daily Article: Washington Watch: Promising News for Short-term Pell
- The Effects of Expanding Pell Grant Eligibility for Short Occupational Training Programs: Results from the Experimental Sites Initiative (Research Study)
- Virginia Community College Blog: Kaine, Scott “optimistic” about Pell Grants for short-term workforce training
College Transparency Act
During the Higher Education Act reauthorization of 2008, Congress placed a ban on the collection of student-level data by the Department of Education, citing privacy concerns. This has greatly restricted the Department of Education’s ability to accurately evaluate postsecondary student outcomes including post-completion income and debt, leaving parents and students with poor information about their options. It also makes it more difficult for educators to understand their students‘ outcomes or collect information required for program reporting (such as that required under Perkins). The College Transparency Act was introduced in 2017 and has been re-introduced in each Congress since. It has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, including 234 co-sponsors across both parties in 2019-2020.
This bill would lift the 2008 ban and direct the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics to establish a secure, privacy-protected data system on postsecondary student outcomes. This database would evaluate student enrollment and completion patterns, post-completion outcomes (like employment, debt and income), higher education costs, and financial aid. With these data, the Department of Education must provide parents and students making decisions about postsecondary education with complete and customizable information. This would both reduce data reporting burdens for schools and help students see the full spectrum of postsecondary opportunities, including CTE programs that have clear returns on investment by providing low-tuition educational opportunities that lead to high-wage, in-demand jobs.
The College Transparency Act (H.R. 2030/S. 839) was most recently re-introduced in March of 2021 as stand-alone legislation, but has not advanced through the legislative process. In February of this year, Reps. Levin (D-MI), Gonzalez (R-OH), Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Steil (R-WI) offered an amendment to the America COMPETES Act of 2022 that included language from both the College Transparency Act and the JOBS Act. The amendment and the bill passed the House, paving the way for a conference committee with the Senate to negotiate the differences between the America COMPETES Act and the Senate’s version of the bill, the United States Innovation & Competitiveness Act of 2021. This gives the College Transparency Act to have a real chance of passage, should the House and Senate decide to keep it in the final bill.
National Apprenticeship Act
The National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) is a federal law that regulates apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs. Apprentice programs in the U.S. were largely unregulated until 1934. After passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), industry, trade unions and the National Recovery Administration cooperated to fashion various “industry codes” to govern competition, wages, working conditions and quality of products and services.
In 1937, the Congress passed the National Apprenticeship Act, also known as “the Fitzgerald Act.” The Act established a national advisory committee whose task was to research and draft regulations to establish minimum standards for apprenticeship programs. The Act was later amended to permit the United States Department of Labor to issue regulations protecting the health, safety and general welfare of apprentices, and to encourage the use of contracts in the hiring and employment of them. The National Apprenticeship Act is administered by the Employment and Training Administration in the Department of Labor, but the underlying statute has not been significantly updated in years.
A reauthorization of the bill is currently making its way through Congress. House Democrats, led by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), passed H.R. 447, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, in February of 2021 by a vote of 247-173. This bill would increase funding for registered apprenticeship programs, while expanding opportunities to registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships. Although it passed the House in a bipartisan fashion, the majority of Republicans remain displeased with its lack of apprenticeship options outside of the more traditional registered program. ACTE endorsed the House bill and supports its passage.
While the 2021 effort was not taken up by the Senate, the language from H.R. 447 was added to the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521), which is a large bill that seeks to make the United States more competitive with China. The bill passed the House in February, paving the way for “conference” (or negotiation) with the Senate, where its fate is still uncertain. The Senate’s version of the America COMPETES Act, called the United States Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2021 (USICA), did not include any reauthorization of NAA. Congressional Democrats hope that the apprenticeship bill remains in that legislation as it moves through a conference committee.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the primary federal legislation governing federal workforce development programs. It is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. The latest reauthorization emphasized an increased coordination and cohesion among federal workforce development programs, including Perkins, instead of them working independent of one another. They accomplished this by aligning the language of definitions, requiring that postsecondary CTE institutions be a local infrastructure partner, and giving states the option to do a combined state plan that meets the planning requirements for WIOA’s core programs and at least one other federal program, among others. WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Programs under WIOA are authorized through FY 2020, which means they expired starting October 1, 2020, although they remain funded through the appropriations process. Both parties in Congress have acknowledged the importance of WIOA programs and expressed desire to reauthorize the legislation, but no legislation has been introduced. The House held several hearings last year, and is currently engaged in bipartisan negotiations on a reauthorization bill, which could be released later this spring. To add historical context, it took Congress 14 years after the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 expired to pass WIOA.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created under a 1996 welfare reform bill, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (P.L. 104-193). It was designed to replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.
TANF’s overall purpose is to “increase the flexibility of states” to meet four statutory goals: (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may remain in their homes; (2) reduce dependency of needy parents on government benefits through work, job preparation, and marriage; (3) reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and (4) promote the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. The 1996 welfare reform law and the creation of TANF altered the federal rules that applied to states for their cash assistance programs. It also established a broad-purpose block grant that provides funds to states to address both the effects and root causes of childhood economic disadvantage.
Most TANF policies still in effect date back to the 1996 welfare reform law. As for its funding, it was originally authorized through the end of FY 2002, with most of the legislative activity since then being short-term funding extensions. Since TANF’s inception, there has been only one long-term extension —The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005—which extended it from FY 2006 through the end of FY 2010. The DRA also made changes to TANF work rules and established a program of competitive grants mostly to community-based organizations for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood initiatives. Since the end of FY2010, TANF has again been funded by a series of short-term extensions and is awaiting congressional reauthorization.