A resolution to continue the federal government’s fiscal year 2011 funding passed in the U.S. House of Representatives early Saturday. In general, the House bill cuts the federal budget by about $60 billion from current discretionary levels and cuts the U.S. Department of Education’s budget by $5 billion.
Title I, which helps fund low-income schools, gets slashed by $694 million, or 5 percent. And Pell Grants, which help low-income students afford college, would be reduced by about $5.6 billion, or 24 percent. According to estimates, such a reduction would mean that approximately 1.3 million students would lose their grants entirely. The legislation also reduces the amount of the maximum award a student may receive from $5,550 to $4,705, a decrease of $845.
The spending bill also eliminates 56 different federal education programs. These range from Promise Neighborhoods to elementary and secondary school counseling, programs to strengthen tribal and minority-serving postsecondary institutions, and Teach for America. An amendment passed on the House floor would ensure that funding for students with disabilities remains at its current level, but does so by gutting Title I School Improvement Grants and taking more money from state grants for teacher quality efforts.
The resolution next heads to the Senate, which is expected to make much less severe cuts. The two bills then will have to be reconciled and sent to the president for signature before March 4. If no bill has been signed into law by then, the federal government will be forced to shut down until a new spending agreement can be reached.