Fiscal Year Crossover: President Biden’s FY 2025 Budget Unveiled as Congress Continues to Negotiate FY 2024 Appropriations

March 15, 2024

Nearly halfway into the 2024 federal fiscal year (FY), lawmakers and the President have finally begun looking into what the FY 2025 budget could look like. You’d be forgiven if you had to do a double take on that sentence, after all, Congress is still negotiating the FY 2024 budget. Last week, the House Budget Committee marked up a concurrent budget resolution for FY 2025 and earlier this week, President Biden unveiled his FY 2025 budget request. We are about to engage in a two-way track for appropriations, at least, for the next week if things go according to plan. The President’s budget provides a window into how the administration is hoping to allocate funding, and how the budget can advance his message to the public, particularly in an election year.

But before we dive into the President’s budget, a recap of where we are in the FY 2024 process.

Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations

The FY 2024 process has been particularly challenging, even by Congress’ standards. The cycle was first delayed due to the Debt Ceiling negotiations, then immediately after a government default was averted, the agreement from the Fiscal Responsibility Act was disregarded and the House and Senate began drafting bills with very different topline numbers. Ultimately, this resulted in needing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open past September 2023. This CR was followed by two additional CRs that have kept the government operating under FY 2023 funding levels. This cycle also saw the ouster of former Speaker McCarthy from his post – arguably for failing to secure steep cuts during the appropriations process, as well as the introduction of a new “laddered” approach to CRs by Speaker Mike Johnson, whereby two different deadlines were set for different sets of appropriations bills.

Now, five months after the start of the 2024 fiscal year, Congress has completed half of its job, passing an appropriations minibus composed of six bills on March 8. The remaining six bills have a deadline of March 22, so if all goes well, Congress should wrap up its FY 2024 work in about a week. However, the second half of bills is a much more challenging set, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; the Defense; and the Homeland Security appropriations bills. This set of bills includes the largest non-defense discretionary bill, and the potential for fights on divisive policy riders such as border issues, abortion, and attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Stay tuned as we follow its development closely leading up to March 22.

President Biden’s FY 2025 Request

President Biden’s FY 2025 Budget request outlines what the administration would like to see Congress enact for the next fiscal year. Normally the president’s budget is received by Congress but not followed through, and that is especially the case when we have a divided government where one or both chambers of Congress are controlled by a different party than the President’s. In this particular year, the budget request can be seen as a messaging tool that can highlight the President’s policy priorities during a contentious presidential election year.

The FY 2025 budget follows the statutory budget caps set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and, since Congress has not completed FY 2024 appropriations, compares funding levels to the most recently enacted funding levels: FY 2023. The budget requests $82 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education — a $3.1 billion or 3.9 percent increase from FY 2023 enacted levels. As for the Department of Labor, the budget requests $13.9 billion in discretionary funding — a $318 million or 2.3 percent increase from FY2023 enacted level.

Overall, the budget provides modest increases to some programs while making small cuts to others. However, the budget also includes proposals on the mandatory spending side that do not count against the discretionary budget caps but allow the administration to highlight initiatives they’d like Congress to authorize and fund.

Of relevance to community colleges, the proposal includes $90 billion over ten years to establish a state-federal partnership for a first-dollar free community college program. The request also includes on the mandatory side $12 billion for a new Reducing the Costs of College Fund which would, among other things, provide high school students with access to free, career-connected dual enrollment courses.

Besides those two mandatory proposals, the budget request provides the following funding levels for programs of importance to community colleges and their students:

  • Strengthening Community College Training Grants receives $70 million ($5 million increase over FY23)
  • Pell Grant maximum award increased to $8,145 ($650 increase on the mandatory formula plus $100 increase in the discretionary side) for students attending public and non-profit colleges and universities.
  • Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) receives $910 million (same as FY23)
  • Federal work study (FWS) received $1.230 billion (same as FY23)
  • Title III-A: Strengthening Institutions Program receives $140 million ($18 million increase from FY23)
  • Strengthening Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCUs) receives $56 million ($5 million increase from FY23)
  • Strengthening Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs) receives $23 million ($1 million increase from FY23)
  • Strengthening Asian American- & Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions (AANAPISIs) receives $19.8 million ($1.3 million increase from FY23)
  • Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) receives $246.5 million ($18.7 million increase from FY23) 
  • Adult Basic Education grants receive $734 million ($5 million increase from Fy23)
  • Career and Technical Education state grants receive $1.470 billion ($40 million increase from FY23)
  • Federal TRIO programs receive $1.211 billion ($20 million increase from FY23)
  • GEAR UP receives $398 million ($10 million increase from FY23)
  • Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) receives $80 million ($5 million increase from FY23)
  • Postsecondary Student Success Grant receives $100 million ($35 million increase from FY23)

Looking Ahead

After two funding cycles with significant wins and increased investments in postsecondary education and student success programs, the FY 2024 process has been a battle of attrition and trying to maintain current levels of funding. While we do not know exactly what the final result will be, we do know that the overall LHHS allocation for FY 2024 will be lower than FY 2023 so in many cases, flat funding will be considered a win. We will also keep a close eye on how community college projects fare in the approved Congressionally Directed Spending/Community Project Funding.

As we look towards FY 2025, ACCT will continue advocating for robust investments to improve student success and institutional capacity. We will look to the President’s budget as a starting point and leverage the data that is presented to inform lawmakers, and we will continue amplifying the opportunity that our colleges have in leveraging Congressionally Directed Spending and Community Project Funding requests.

José N. Miranda is the Director of Government Relations at ACCT

Photo credit: Alpha Stock Images -

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