Earmarks, also known as congressionally directed spending or community project funding, allow members of Congress to direct an amount of money, through the federal discretionary budget process, towards a specific entity within their congressional district or state. Each congressional office has different deadlines for earmark requests, but most requests are typically due late February or early March.
Earmarks are often used to address issues of concern for members in their individual congressional districts. In 2023, over $1.7B in CDS funding was awarded to colleges and universities to support scholarships, construction and renovation projects, research and lab space, workforce development initiatives, among other priority projects on campuses across the country.
Appropriations Bills and Accounts
Applicants are required to submit applications to specific funding bills. There are 12 funding bills but five that are most relevant to higher education: 1) Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, 2) Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, 3) Financial Services and General Government, 4) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, 5) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies.
Each bill has a unique set of rules and regulations that an applicant must follow in order to have a competitive proposal. Grants Intelligence Service (GIS) supports IHEs in navigating this process and identifying which bill best matches the proposed project.
Rules & Regulations
Schools may submit applications to participating members from both the House and the Senate. The House and Senate both offer similar rules regarding each chambers’ definitions of earmarks, although the House rules are more restrictive than the Senate. Examples of House rules:
- Cap on Member Requests – A limit of 15 earmark requests per member per year.
- Federal Nexus Requirement – Committee will only fund projects that are tied to a federal authorization law. Members must include a written statement, known as the federal nexus, describing the project for each Community Project Funding request that explains they have no financial interest in the project.
- Disclosure – Members are required to post every project funding request online, in a searchable format, with their final submission to the Committee. For example, all FY24 projects submitted to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees can be found here:
As of the FY24 process, the Senate has not limited the number of requests a senator may submit. However, the submission of a project to the House or Senate Appropriations Committee does not guarantee funding.
Grants Intelligence Service (GIS) Federal Grants Database for IHEs
Grants Intelligence Service (GIS) is a federal grants database that not only provides IHEs with resources on federal grant programs, but also provides strategic intelligence on the Congressionally Directed Spending Process. GIS Federal Grants Advisors provide CDS application support for colleges and universities and provide insight into best practices when approaching your representatives.
Don’t wait to get started, the FY25 CDS application process is quickly approaching! Sign up for a demo and let Grants Intelligence Service (GIS) help you today!