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Washington Update: FY2017 Appropriations Update; Federal Student Loan Interest Rates to Decline; and Senator Flake’s Latest Wastebook

FY2017 Appropriations Update
The House Appropriations Committee approved its FY2017 Defense Appropriations bill last week. The bill would fund Department of Defense Science & Technology at $13.028 billion, a $223 million increase from FY2016 enacted levels. Basic Research (6.1) would be funded at $2.124 billion, a $185 million decrease, while DARPA would be funded at $2.973 billion, an $82 million increase from FY2016 enacted.

The House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee approved its FY2017 bill, which would fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.407 billion — $57 million less than FY2016 enacted. Under NSF, Research and Related Activities would receive $6.08 billion, a $46 million increase and Education and Human Resources would be level-funded at $880 million. Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would receive $87.1 million, a $113 million decrease from the FY2016 enacted amount.

For NASA, the bill would provide $19.5 billion, a $223 million increase from the FY2016 enacted level. The Science Directorate would receive $5.597 billion, an increase of $8 million. Space Grant would be level-funded at $40 million. Aeronautics would receive $712 million, an increase of $72 million and Space Technology would receive $739 million, a $52 million increase. The House CJS appropriations report can be found here.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its Agriculture Appropriations bill. This measure would fund the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at $375 million, a $25 million increase from FY2016. The bill would also level-fund a number of extension and research and education activities accounts, including Hatch Act Funds and the Evans-Allen Program.

APLU CGA staff continuously updates the appropriations priorities chart which can be found here.

Federal Student Loan Interest Rates to Decline
Following the U.S. Treasury Department’s sale of 10-year notes, which student loan interest rates are pegged to, rates will significantly decline in the coming academic year. Interest rates on new undergraduate Stafford loans will decrease from 4.29 percent to 3.76 percent. New graduate student loans will drop from 5.84 percent to 5.21 percent and new PLUS loans will fall from 6.84 percent to 6.31 percent. These 2016-17 rates will apply to loans dispersed between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017.

Senator Flake’s Latest “Wastebook”
Earlier this month, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released “Twenty Questions: Government Studies That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head,” a report on federally funded scientific research projects. The “Twenty Questions” report highlights research projects conducted at public universities and funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.

In conjunction with the report, Senator Flake also introduced the S. 2915, the Federal Research Transparency and Accountability Act, which would establish a database to detect potentially duplicative scientific research applications for federal funding.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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