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Policy & Advocacy

Federal Budget & Appropriations

APLU staff closely track and examine federal agency and program budgets of relevance to the higher education and scientific research community as well as follow the Congressional appropriations process through both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. APLU works with our members to advocate for federal support of a variety of programs such as student financial aid, science and research, and STEM education.

Major Activities

  • Administration's FY2018 Budget Request to Congress

    President Trump released his FY2018 budget request on May 23, 2017. The budget request outlines the administration’s agency and program funding requests. The budget request proposes a $54 billion increase for national defense discretionary budget authority and a reduction of $54 billion for nondefense discretionary programs. It proposes significant funding reductions for a number of areas, including higher education and research programs. APLU's analysis of the administration’s FY2018 budget request can be found here.

    The APLU appropriations chart for FY2018 has also been updated to reflect the Administration’s budget proposal.  

    APLU President Peter McPherson issued a statement on the President’s FY2018 budget request, which can be found here.

  • House and Senate Budget Resolutions

    The annual budget resolution is an agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate on a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year and spending priorities for at least the next five fiscal years. The budget resolution is a concurrent resolution and cannot be signed or vetoed by the President. However, the budget resolution provides a framework for legislative action on appropriations bills.

    On November 2, 2015, the President signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law, which raised discretionary spending caps by $80 billion over two years. These increases were split evenly between defense and non-defense spending.

    In October 2017, the House and Senate passed a FY2018 budget resolution establishing federal spending and revenue levels for FY 2018 and subsequent years through FY 2027. The budget resolution raises defense spending and reduces FY2018 nondefense discretionary spending. It also includes reconciliation instructions for congressional consideration of tax legislation. Although Congress passed a budget resolution, debate around spending levels for FY2018 will continue. Additional information may be found at and

  • FY2018 Appropriations Requests to Congress
    Working with the CGA, APLU sets programmatic requests for priority agencies and programs.  We urge campuses to weigh in with their congressional delegations and ask them to submit these programmatic requests to the relevant Appropriations Subcommittees.

    Additionally, the APLU Governmental Affairs staff provides ongoing analysis of the appropriations process as it pertains to programs of interest to research universities. Please visit our Appropriations Page to learn more.
  • Sequestration
    Passed as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration is a deficit reduction mechanism to further lower the statutory caps on annual discretionary spending through FY2021. Originally slated to begin in January 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act pushed the implementation of sequester cuts to March 1, 2013.  The first year of sequestration resulted in automatic, across the board cuts to agencies and programs in the discretionary part of the federal budget.  Since then, the sequestration cuts have been included as part of the appropriations process. The effect is that sequestration negatively impacts key areas important to research universities, including federally supported scientific research, student aid, and health care. 

    APLU continues to focus efforts on ending sequestration.  The association and our universities are on record urging Congress and the President to address our federal budget issues more comprehensively and sensibly:  rather than simply continuing to cut the ever-shrinking discretionary portion of the budget, federal policy makers must take on the hard but necessary work of entitlement reform and tax reform.

    Background Materials on the Impact of Sequestration:

    :: ITIF Report: Eroding Our Foundation - Sequestration, R&D, Innovation, and U.S. Economic Growth
    :: Science Community Letter on Sequestration - December 2012

  • Close the Innovation Deficit
    Close the Innovation Deficit is an effort by leaders of the business, higher education, scientific, and high-tech manufacturing communities who are concerned about cuts and stagnating federal investments in research and higher education at a time when other nations are pouring resources into these areas.

    These leaders believe the nation needs sustained investments in research and higher education to develop the ideas, the people, and the innovations that power the nation’s economy, create jobs, improve health, and strengthen our national security, ensuring that the U.S. maintains its role as global leader. They also believe that the growth supported by innovation will help the nation address its fiscal challenges.

    See a short, entertaining video about the innovation deficit and the need to close it here.

    Find out more on how to close the innovation deficit here.