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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 850 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



Congress Passes Bipartisan Year-End Spending and COVID-19 Relief Bill

Published December 22, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2020 - The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) applauds Congress for passing H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which provides additional COVID-19 relief and funds the federal government for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. Specifically, this bipartisan bill provides $1.4 trillion in FY 2021 federal appropriations and increased investments for nursing education and research, including: 

  • $264.472 million for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs, a $4.5 million increase over FY 2020 levels; 
  • $174.957 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), a $5.844 million increase; 
  • $42.934 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and provides guidance that, “encourages NIH to support research to advance robotic and automation technologies to help nurses complete remote physical tasks for patients affected by infectious diseases and to limit caregivers' exposure and/or reduce burden on the healthcare system.”

“Schools of nursing, deans, faculty, and students are essential to ensuring our nursing pathways remain strong and our current and future frontline providers continue to meet health and health care needs in all communities, including rural and underserved areas,” said Dr. Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Chair of AACN’s Board of Directors. “I am encouraged to see increased investments in vital federal programs, which are foundational, especially as we address COVID-19 and the public health challenges yet to come.” 
Additionally, H.R. 133 allocates $24.5 billion for Student Financial Assistance, which includes $6,495 for maximum Pell Grant, an increase of $150 above FY 2020 enacted levels, provisions to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as $2.5 billion for higher education in FY 2021. It is estimated that this legislation will result in 555,000 students becoming newly eligible for Pell Grants and 1.7 million more awardees will be newly eligible for the maximum grant. 
Roughly $900 billion is also allocated in this bipartisan bill as part of Congress’ ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts. Provisions impacting academic nursing include:

  • $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund;
  • Approximately $7 billion to increase broadband access, telehealth, distance learning, and other broadband infrastructure needs, especially in rural and underserved areas; 
  • $1.25 billion to NIH for research and clinical trials related to the long-term impact of COVID-19 and “Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for COVID-19”; 
  • $3.25 billion in supplemental funding for the Strategic National Stockpile; and  
  • Billions of dollars through various agencies to assist with equitable distribution of vaccines, public health, and national testing and tracing efforts; among other provisions. 

“We have witnessed how AACN members continue to address the realities of COVID-19, and remain committed as tracking, tracing, and vaccine distribution and administration efforts are underway,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “These additional investments provide much needed support and we look forward to working with federal policymakers to advance innovative, sustainable, and inclusive policies to guide us through this unprecedented time.”
AACN would like to thank Congressional leadership and the Administration for their efforts in developing and passing this legislation to provide desperately needed COVID-19 relief. Additionally, AACN thanks the following champions, along with the full Senate and House Appropriations Committees, for their continued commitment to nursing education and research: Senate and House Appropriations Chairs Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), Vice Chair Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ranking Member Representative Kay Granger (R-TX); – Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT); and Ranking Members Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK). Additionally, AACN appreciates the invaluable work and leadership of the House and Senate Nursing Caucuses as they continue to be steadfast champions for nursing education, the workforce, and research.
AACN looks forward to working with the new Administration and the next Congress to continue strong investment in academic nursing and to provide additional supplemental support in future COVID-19 relief packages. 
For information on AACN’s advocacy work, visit AACN’s Policy and Advocacy page and for more detailed funding numbers for priority programs, please see AACN’s FY 2021 Appropriations funding chart. For full bill text, explanatory statements, and other division reports, click here.