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2008 Appropriations Funding

Increased Funding in Education Programs, Including Over $501 Million for Exchanges; Lincoln Study Abroad Program Deferred

In December, after the President vetoed an appropriations bill which increased education funding, Congress and the Administration agreed on a compromise omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government for FY 2008. This package of spending bills included more than $501 million for the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The bill did not include FY 2008 funding for the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation, also known as the Lincoln Fellowships program, since the program has not yet been authorized by Congress.

Within this huge bill, the Foreign Language Assistance program (FLAP) received an increase from $23.8 million to $25.7 million. In higher education, International Education and Foreign Language Studies grew from $105.7 million to $109 million. Civic Education went from $29.1 million to $32 million. The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), with many earmarks, grew from $22 million to $120.3 million. Star Schools finally was eliminated and funding for technology decreased to $267.5 million.

Regarding recently created and new programs, The Baccalaureate and Master’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and Foreign Language Teacher grants got $1 million each. SMART grants increased from $850 million to $1,445 million. The new TEACH grants, which include foreign languages, were funded at $58 million. The President’s request for $24 million for Advancing America through Foreign Language Partnerships was not approved.

In other agencies, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) lost funding from $140.9 million to $132.5 million.  In the State Department, Education and Cultural Exchange programs grew from $445.3 million to $505.4 million.  Finally, the National Security Education Program (NSEP) increased from $16 million to $44.7 million.

Total funding for exchanges in the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations section of the omnibus spending package was approximately $505.4 million. An across-the-board cut of 0.81% applied to all programs in the bill brought the total funding amount for exchanges to $501.3 million. A summary of the final bill released by the House Appropriations Committee noted that the amount included for exchanges was $36 million above the FY 2007 level of funding, and $15 million above the President’s request for these programs. It added that the $501 million would “fund the participation of over 42,000 individuals in educational, cultural, and professional exchange programs worldwide.”

The omnibus bill did not include Senate language providing up to $2 million for the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation, subject to authorization. The committees note they “are supportive of this effort, and will review the new authorities and funding requirements once the program is authorized.” The legislation to authorize the Simon program passed the House in June 2007 and is still pending in the Senate.

The bill provided nearly $283 million for academic programs, $160 million for professional and cultural programs, $3 million for program and performance, and $49 million for exchanges support.

The bill included $10 million for a competitive one-time grants program, similar to proposals contained in both the House and Senate reports. Report language noted that, in developing this competitive grants program, the Department of State is to be guided by the report criteria contained in those two reports. It also recommends a number of proposals for consideration.


Monday, December 31, 2007