Statement on the Fiscal Year 2023 Government Funding Omnibus

December 21, 2022 

Yesterday, top Congressional leaders released omnibus legislation to the federal government through the remainder of the current federal fiscal year (FY) that ends on September 30, 2023. Congress has been negotiating the year-end bill for several weeks to avoid a continuing resolution that would result in widespread flat funding of federal programs. 

While the omnibus contains some notable increases in funding for education and adopts a few policy reforms, it does not include most of the substantial investments that The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice called for earlier this year to expand the Basic Needs Grant program, support parenting students and college mental health, and ensure federal student aid keeps up with inflation. 

"It is unacceptable that three in five students in college do not have enough to eat or a safe place to live. In the face of rising costs of living and historic federal pandemic aid running dry, today’s students and their families are struggling more than ever."


Bryce McKibben

Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy

“We are happy to see that Congress was able to negotiate a bipartisan omnibus and increase funding for education overall. At the same time, we are disappointed that the bill misses an opportunity to address rampant basic needs insecurity in higher education,” said Bryce McKibben, Senior Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. “It is unacceptable that three in five students in college do not have enough to eat or a safe place to live. In the face of rising costs of living and historic federal pandemic aid running dry, today’s students and their families are struggling more than ever. We appreciate the work of Senators Leahy, Shelby, Murray, and Blunt, and Representatives DeLauro, Granger, and Cole in negotiating this bill and look forward to working with them to build on this progress for students.” 

While the legislation does not contain the level of investments needed to make college substantially more affordable for students, there are some steps forward for students within the FY 2023 omnibus bill: 


Steps in the Right Direction for Students 

Basic Needs Grants

The funding bill provides $10 million for the Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students Program (“Basic Needs Grants”), an increase of $3 million above the FY 2022 enacted level. Basic Needs Grants help colleges develop innovative and comprehensive programs to address student basic needs insecurity. New investments in this vital program will help more colleges scale up promising practices. Unfortunately, the funding level falls short of the $15 million proposed for the program in both the House and Senate LHHS-ED funding bills introduced earlier this year. However, the omnibus does reference House report language adopted earlier this year that will improve the program and its usefulness for colleges and their students. 

The Hope Center is grateful to Congresswoman Norma J. Torres, and Senators Padilla and Feinstein, for their strong support of the Basic Needs Grant. We look forward to helping colleges apply for the FY 2023 competition.  

The bill also expands funding to $45 million for the Postsecondary Student Success Grants program, which colleges could use to fund evidence-based interventions to reduce student basic needs insecurity. However, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) must ensure that basic needs interventions qualify for funding and evaluation under this grant program despite the significant limitations of the What Works Clearinghouse. 

Child Care for Parenting Students

The bill provides $75 million for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, an increase of $10 million above the FY 2022 enacted level. This increase will help parenting students juggling caring for their children while going to school and working. However, the omnibus falls short of the $95 million for CCAMPIS that was requested by the Biden-Harris Administration and proposed in the House and Senate LHHS-ED bills earlier this year.  

Today, four million college students are parents of dependent children, representing more than one in five undergraduates and one in three graduate students in the United States. Parenting students are disproportionately at-risk of basic needs insecurity; 70 percent of parenting students experience basic needs insecurity, compared to 55 percent of students without children. Expanding on-campus child care has become even more essential given the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion rights, the declining availability of on-campus child care centers, and the increasing cost of child care, which has reached a national average of $10,600 per year. Due to significant need, there are 55 organizations calling Congress to increase CCAMPIS funding to $500 million to support approximately 100,000 more parenting students.  

The bill also directs ED establish a more reasonable cap on the amount of funding colleges can get through CCAMPIS—a key request from The Hope Center. Revising this cap will help the grants more accurately reflect the costs of providing convenient child care options for students. Community colleges in particular have struggled with the historically small size of CCAMPIS grant award, which has been limited to only a fraction of the Pell Grant funding their students receive. The Hope Center looks forward to working with ED to establish a common-sense maximum grant level that adequately supports the needs of student parents. We also encourage colleges to begin preparing for the fiscal year 2023 grant competition. 

The omnibus also provides a historic 30 percent increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant, the primary federal child care assistance program which funds the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF). While this substantial increase will help many families, CCDF excludes many parenting students and their children due to restrictive and confusing state eligibility rules. The Hope Center looks forward to working with states to expand access to CCDF, and with colleges and ED to conduct outreach to students about the availability of CCDF. 

Pell Grants and Campus-Based Aid

The funding bill increases the maximum Pell Grant to $7,395, which is $500 above the FY 2022 enacted level. While this increase will be meaningful for millions of students who receive the Pell Grant, the purchasing power of federal grant aid has declined over decades, and students with low incomes are less able to afford college than they were even a decade ago. Many students are also denied access to Pell Grants due to eligibility requirements which exacerbate equity gaps, like academic progress requirements and time limits. The bill also rescinds $360 million from the Pell Grant rainy day fund to pay for other priorities. 

To truly address the college affordability crisis and the full cost of college, Congress must reform higher education financing with a state-federal partnership and expand eligibility for Pell Grants, as we call for in our federal policy priorities.  

Finally, the funding bill also includes $910 million for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program, an increase of $15 million above FY 2022, and $1.23 billion for Federal Work-Study (FWS), an increase of $20 million above the FY22 enacted level. However, these increases for campus-based aid fail to keep pace with inflation, which stands at 7.1 percent year-over-year for consumers. As a result, students relying on campus-based aid will fall further behind as they struggle to afford food, housing, transportation, and more. Inequitable allocation of campus-based also limits the benefits to students, and The Hope Center is currently examining ways to improve campus-based aid with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Earmarks for Basic Needs in Higher Education

Members of Congress have funded a wide array of community projects, also known as “earmarks” or “Congressionally directed spending,” many of which support students’ basic needs through institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations. Within LHHS-ED, earmarks increased to $430M, up from $249M in the FY 2022 bill, a 72 percent increase. We applaud the Members of Congress who secured funding to support student basic needs. Notable earmarks and their sponsors include: 

  • $1.25 million for Glendale College Foundation for student basic needs support. including rental assistance (Rep. Schiff) 

  • $337,000 for Irvine Valley College for a basic needs pilot program (Sens. Feinstein, Padilla) 

  • $1.28 million for Manor College for wraparound services, advising, and basic needs support for at-risk student populations, including scholarships (Rep. Dean) 

  • $450,000 for Western Washington University for a food security program, including furnishing a longhouse with equipment (Rep. Larsen) 

  • $1 million for Bay Path University for wraparound academic and student support services (Rep. Neal) 

  • $300,000 for Carlow University for a program for students transitioning out of foster care (Sen. Casey) 

  • $1 million for Chabot-Las Positas Community College District for student support programs (Rep. Swalwell) 

  • $300,000 for Everett Community College for programs for youth experiencing homelessness (Sen. Murray) 

  • $1 million for Ready to Succeed in Santa Monica, CA to support college-going foster youth, including scholarships (Rep. Lieu) 

  • $1.2 million for San Diego Community College District for student support services for DACA recipients (Rep. Vargas) 

  • $750,000 for Portland State University for a Low-Cost Student Housing Project (Rep. Blumenauer, Sens. Merkley and Wyden) 

The Hope Center calls on institutions of higher education and Members of Congress to prioritize student basic needs supports in their FY 2024 community project funding requests. 


Missed Opportunities to Help Students 

In addition to funding levels that were lower than the House and Senate LHHS-ED bills mentioned above, such as CCAMPIS and Basic Needs Grants, there were other missed opportunities to help students in the omnibus: 

College Student Mental Health

The bill provides inadequate funding for Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Grants at just $8.48 million, only $2 million above the FY 2022 enacted level and short of both the Biden-Harris Administration’s request, and House and Senate LHHS-ED proposals, of $11.5 million. GLS is the only federal program supporting the mental health needs of college students, which have grown even more severe in the wake of the pandemic. While the omnibus significantly increases mental health funding for students in K-12, it leaves college students behind. Students’ mental health challenges do not end when they transition to higher education. 

The bill fails to make the meaningful changes needed to adequately reauthorize the GLS program. For example, the GLS program does not effectively serve the needs of students attending community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and other Minority-Serving Institutions due to onerous “match” requirements, and the program does not currently address the substantial link between students’ basic needs security and their mental health. The omnibus also inexplicably dropped key provisions from bipartisan legislation that proposed changes to GLS. Earlier this year, The Hope Center led a coalition of nearly 100 groups calling on Congress to overhaul and invest substantially more in GLS and asked Congress to revise the GLS program, but the omnibus did not make these changes. We call on Congress to renew legislative efforts to address college students’ mental health in 2023. 

Student Aid Administration

The omnibus provides only flat funding for ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) under the “Student Aid Administration” account. At a time when ED must implement the FAFSA Simplification Act, and is overhauling student loan repayment and servicing to better support at-risk borrowers, flat funding puts all of ED’s operational priorities at significant risk of failure. The historic redesign of the federal financial aid system and the FAFSA requires robust staffing, new technology, and regular technical assistance for states and colleges—all of which necessitate additional funding. The Hope Center encourages ED to explore all options to reallocate funding to support student aid improvements, and we call on Congress to substantially expand funding for Student Aid Administration as soon as possible. 

Tax on Pell Grants and Child Tax Credit

The omnibus dropped proposals to expand federal tax relief to working families that had been under consideration. Last month, The Hope Center led a letter on behalf of 26 other higher education and consumer organizations calling on Congress to stop taxing Pell Grants, as this tax policy harms college students’ ability to afford their basic needs. Approximately 3 million Pell Grant recipients are taxed each year. The omnibus also omitted proposals to expand the Child Tax Credit, which has been a significant source of financial support for parenting students.  

Undocumented Students

The omnibus did not extend statutory protections to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status. The Hope Center stands in solidarity with those calling on Congress to immediately come together to create a path to citizenship for Dreamers.



While we appreciate the efforts of Congressional leaders to increase funding for education in a challenging political environment, the omnibus falls short of the investments needed to treat students as humans first. Federal funding must address the full cost of college—not just tuition and fees, but food, housing, child care, health care, transportation, books and supplies, technology, and more.  

There is substantial work ahead to build a higher education system and social safety net that meets the needs of today’s students. We look forward to working with Congress and the Biden Administration to build sustainable funding that meets the scale of the problem and combats the college affordability crisis.