Funny Money in Higher Education

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Two days ago the Senate passed a spending bill that will fund the Department of Education, the NIH, and many other education programs in 2010.

Most Americans are too distracted by Washington’s health care fight to give the spending bill much time. Even higher education people are mostly distracted by waiting for health care do be over so congress can work on the student loan bill.

But looking at the appropriations money is revealing. There’s a chart here displaying new funding. The Perkins Loan Program, for instance, got no money. According to an article about the spending bill in Inside Higher Ed one of the more interesting appropriations stories is:

The Incredible Shrinking FIPSE. The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, which was once a laboratory for innovation in higher education, has steadily been eroded in recent years as lawmakers have increasingly tapped its comparatively small pool of money to finance pet projects for local institutions.

The official goal of the FIPSE is “promoting meaningful and lasting solutions to various, often newly emerging, problems and of promoting the highest quality education for all learners.” In 2010 some $13.6 million worth of FIPSE money will help pay for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer