Monday, January 30, 2023
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‘Build Back Better’ Offers Free College, Expanded Pell Grants

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The Build Back Better Act proposing $761 billion to lower child care and higher education costs has reached the final revisions stage.

The US House Committee on Education and Labor concluded a series of markups Friday. Colorado Newsline reported that the measure could be the most significant social policy change in decades since it increases Pell Grants and funds two years of tuition-free community college.

Republicans have raised concerns, objecting to some suggested amendments because of high costs and other legalities. However, Build Back Better was approved by a party-line vote (28-22) and will be combined with a budget reconciliation measure amounting to $3.5 trillion.  

“The provisions in the Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act will lower costs for nearly every American family, secure good-paying jobs for millions of American workers, and set a strong foundation for America’s children,” Committee Chairman Robert Scott said after the committee vote.

Rebuilding Early and Higher Education

Under the act, $450 billion will go toward lowering the cost of child care and providing universal pre-K education for children ages three and four. 

An additional $85 million would be utilized for repairing and modernizing school infrastructure, while child nutrition programs worth $35 million will make it possible for nine million kids to receive free school lunches. 

Higher education will also get a boost, with $111 billion going toward increased financial assistance such as two years of tuition-free community college from 2023 until 2028. Federal Pell Grants will also see a $500 increase in maximum awards, while program eligibility will be expanded to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges, and other minority-serving institutions will also receive unspecified investments.

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