In the first full budget proposal of his term, President Joe Biden has signaled support for major investments in higher education, a commitment to access and affordability measures, and investment in the broader research enterprise. The FY22 request also includes tax proposals sought by the higher education community.
Education and Humanities
Many of Biden’s most ambitious proposals for higher education were first unveiled in his twin infrastructure proposals, the American Families Plan and the American Jobs Plan, and funding for these proposals are included in the FY22 budget request. These include the creation of a free community college program, increases to the Pell Grant Program that cumulatively would raise the maximum award to $8,370, and large investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions.
In addition, the request broadly proposes a 41 percent increase in funding from FY21 levels for the Department of Education for a total of nearly $30 billion, with $3.3 billion specifically in discretionary funds for higher education programs designed to enhance student achievement and increase access for all students. The proposal maintains FY21 funding levels for the Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants programs. The TRIO and GEAR UP programs would see modest funding increases of approximately $201 million and $40 million, respectively.
The president’s proposal also includes a request of $177.55 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a 6 percent increase from its FY21 funding. Much of the proposed increase would be earmarked for NEH grant programs.
The president’s budget indicates support for sizeable new investments in research. Notably, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation would receive funding increases of roughly 20 percent over the previous fiscal year under the proposal.
Similarly, NASA, Department of Agriculture research programs, and the Department of Energy would see funding increases, although the budget does call for cuts to the Department of Defense’s Science and Technology enterprise.
The president’s budget also included a pair of promising changes to the 179D tax deduction for energy efficient commercial construction, which incentivizes energy efficient construction and retrofits with a tax deduction. The proposal would increase the maximum deduction from $1.80 to $3.00 per square foot and partial deductions from $.60 to $1.00 per square foot. It also would lessen the energy savings required to qualify.
Finally, the budget notably did not include a proposal to place a 28 percent cap on the value of itemized deductions, including charitable deductions, which Biden had proposed as a candidate. The Charitable Giving Coalition, of which NACUBO is a member, released a statement thanking the administration for not including such a cap, which would be detrimental to the entire nonprofit community and those served by it.