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Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need

Program Description
The GAANN program provides fellowships (for up to 3 years of support) through academic departments and programs of higher education institutions to assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in their course of study at their institution in a field designated as an area of national need. Students are not eligible to apply directly for GAANN fellowships. In 2012, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship program was consolidated with GAANN at which time it ceased making new grants. The Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program provided up to 4 years of competitively awarded support to students of superior academic ability and high financial need pursuing doctoral degrees, or the highest terminal degree, in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. First authorized in 1980, it was the only federal fellowship program that provided financial support to students pursuing graduate degrees in the humanities and arts. GAANN currently provides continuation grants for Javits fellowships awarded before the program was consolidated with GAANN. The Javits and GAANN programs are administered jointly by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. [URL: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/gaann/index.html]

Action Needed
For FY 2015, we urge Congress to at least maintain pre-sequester funding levels of $31 million to support the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program and continuation grants in the Javits Fellowship Program. We ask that Congress give the Department of Education the authority necessary to ensure that the arts, humanities, and social science disciplines supported by Javits are included as eligible fields for future grant competitions. We support continued funding for non-competing continuation Javits grants in FY 2015, as the final year of Javits continuations. In the longer-term we want to work on building support for graduate students in the humanities. Together, these programs help ensure a strong pipeline of talented experts and educators who will help to meet the demands of our 21st century workforce.

Current Funding Status
The FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill provided $29.293 million in funding for GAANN, the same level of funding the programs received post-sequestration in FY 2013. Omnibus report language also stated, “The agreement continues language allowing funds awarded under the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program to be used to fund continuation costs for the Javits Fellowship program.”  Funding for Javits and GAANN, which were consolidated into one program in FY 2012, has declined by more than 24% since FY 2010. The President’s FY 2015 budget proposal provides $29 million for the combined programs. 

The Javits Fellowships and GAANN programs are funded under the Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations bill.

Committee Jurisdiction
Appropriations:

Authorization:

Authorization 
[Last reauthorized: August 14, 2008]
The Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program is authorized under Title VII, Section 702 of the Higher Education Act (HEA). This law was last reauthorized under the Higher Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4137), enacted on August 14, 2008.  [Current Statute: P.L. 110-315]

Talking Points

  • The Javits Fellowship is critical to supporting a pipeline of talented experts and educators who will help to meet the demands of our 21st century workforce.
  • In order to remain globally competitive, we cannot afford to lose a generation of leaders.
  • In today’s knowledge-based economy, we need graduate students trained in the humanities and social sciences who will be able to address pressing national issues.
  • The average time to degree for doctoral candidate fellows is better than the national average.