Omnibus spending bill for 2023 includes Pell grant increase

Prior to adjourning for 2022, Congress passed, and the president signed, a massive omnibus spending bill to fund the government in 2023. The bill included a $500 increase in the maximum Pell grant award, another step toward doubling the Pell grant, which is a top NACAC priority. The bill also provides $1.3 billion for Title IV-A programs, another NACAC priority program that includes funding for states to offer college access and school counseling support. Additional funding for NACAC priority programs included a $10 million increase to the GEAR UP college preparation program, a $54 million increase for TRIO programs, a $33 million increase for HBCUs, and $20 million more for Federal Work Study programs. Congress did not fund President Biden’s request for $1 billion for school health professionals, including school counselors, but NACAC will continue to advocate for that much-needed support.

Department of Education Seeks Comments on Ability to Benefit Tests

The US Department of Education seeks comments on regulations that govern the application for and approval of approved “Ability to Benefit” (ATB) tests may be used to determine a student’s eligibility for assistance for the Title IV student financial assistance programs authorized when, among other conditions, the student does not have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has identified weaknesses in ATB testing that can lead to fraud at unscrupulous institutions. Comments will be accepted until February 27, 2023. The notice can be found here.