D.C. Update: Pell Grants receive boost; congrats for 50 years

With the final appropriations bill markups nearing a close, FIU works with officials, agencies and organizations to advance the South Florida community while several of FIU leaders advocate in D.C. In addition, FIU in D.C. celebrates the 50th anniversary of the university and receives congrats via social media from agencies and government leaders.

Pell Grant award increases in LHHS appropriations bill

Following the release of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriation Bill, the Senate has begun their mark-up process and a vote is expected before Congress breaks for the 4th of July holiday. Thanks to the help of the congressional delegation members, an increase to Federal Pell Grant awards will happen, if the bill makes it through the legislative process. FIU, alongside of many other organizations and universities, helped urge lawmakers to add legislation that would result in this increase.

The maximum Pell Grant award would increase from $5,730 to $5,915, funded by a combination of discretionary and mandatory funds. This change from mandatory to discretionary and mandatory could pose a threat to the security of Pell Grants in the future, something that FIU’s federal relations team will be sure to monitor closely. See a markup bill summary here. At FIU, the number of Pell Grant recipients totals 20,000 students annually.

“Pell Grants are investments in our students that will come back in an advantaged form by keeping our community on a growth track to social development,” said, Juan Gilces, FIU Student Government Association student lobbyist.

Appropriations season in Washington D.C.

With Congress in session, the appropriations bills for the 2016 fiscal year are the hot topic issue. FIU has submitted language to many of the twelve appropriations bills -language that addresses accelerated bridge construction, minority science center for Minority Serving Institutions, disaster resiliency, and advanced prosthetics for veterans. Responses have been promising. Learn more about FIU’s priorities on the FIU Governmental Relations website.

The Federal Relations team celebrates FIU’s 50th anniversary in D.C.


On FIU’s 50th birthday FIU interns and alumni come together for a picture at Dupont Circle.

Fifty years after FIU was chartered, Washington D.C. erupted in support of the university’s years of service to education and the surrounding community. With the hashtag “FIU50inDC,” members of Congress, federal agencies, federal and local leaders, and organizations all around D.C sent congratulatory remarks to the university.

Notable leaders who went to social media in support were Congresswomen Frederica Wilson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz; Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo; and Senator Marco Rubio.

Many agencies also sent out notes of congratulations, including La Casa Blanca (Hispanic Media for the White House), Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Tweets from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and La Casa Blanca on the 50th anniversary of FIU.


“Happy 50th, ‪@FIU! We salute your 55K students, 200K ‪@fiualumni and faculty helping advance education in the US! ‪#FIU50inDC,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (@ArneDuncan).

The evening concluded with a picture at Dupont Circle that included many FIU alumni, and student interns followed by a cake cutting reception.

FIU leadership from environmental and medical programs visit D.C.


Todd Crowl meets with Marco Rubio’s staff, including Viviana Bovo an FIU alumna.

Todd Crowl, director of the Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC), met with Senator Marco Rubio’s team to discuss a report showing the ecological impact of constructing the Nicaraguan Canal. The D.C. meetings ended with a conversation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Meeting with NOAA official Marlene Kaplan, Crowl discussed the Minority Science Center and the potential for FIU to host one of the new centers.

Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez, associate dean for Graduate Medical Education of the College of Medicine, was in D.C. advocating for autism, diagnosed between 200,000 to 3 million times in the United States each year. Research for a cure is something that Dr. Hernandez Suarez has continued to advocate toward, alongside Autism Speaks – an organization dedicated to finding a cure. Her visits included talks on funding for experimental drugs used for autism treatment. Just this week FIU received a grant from the Department of Education to train Autism-certified teachers.

Buildstrong coalition brings the issue of climate change to the forefront

The Buildstrong Coalition held a listening session with the Congressional Transportation Committee to discuss the best practices for addressing disaster policies and programs. Former Director of FEMA R. David Paulison was one of the featured panelists and Florida District 26 Congressman Carlos Curbelo was also present. The conversation centered on the affect of climate change and flood mapping its impact on many agencies represented on the panel, including FEMA, Federal Transit Authority, U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Want to learn more?

Interested in FIU’s growing role in D.C. or to learn more about what the Office Governmental Relations is doing this summer, stay connected with FIU in D.C. on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter: @FIUdc

Facebook: FIU Federal Relations, FIU In DC

Email: Federal@fiu.edu