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The Chronicle of Higher Education: Facts & Figures

From the issue dated September 26, 2003

Congressional Earmarks for Higher Education, 1990-2003

Earmarks are appropriations that members of Congress give for projects involving specific colleges and universities, bypassing the normal competitions for federal funds. Search by state, federal agency, year, and keyword:


Enter a search term:   
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Or, search for an institution:  


This database includes projects involving academic institutions that Congress directed federal agencies to finance in the 2003 fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2002.

President Bush did not request money for these projects in his budget proposals. Congress earmarked the money either in spending bills or in accompanying reports that explained the bills.

For most appropriations listed, federal agencies did not sponsor open, merit-reviewed competitions to determine which institutions should get the money. Congress usually named specific universities as recipients.

The database includes some appropriations, most of them for the Defense Department, for which Congress specified no recipient. In such cases, officials say they pick recipients using procedures that involve open competition and merit review, as required under federal regulations.

Nevertheless, in such cases, officials typically give earmarked funds to recipients favored by Congress. The officials say that those seeking the funds must submit formal proposals, and that anyone may apply. Federal regulations give officials discretion to consider several factors, including scientific merit and the agency's interests, in deciding how to make awards. The Chronicle's database includes some awards made through that procedure.

Department of Defense officials said they had not finished choosing recipients using that method for some appropriations in the 2003 fiscal year, and thus the list may be incomplete.

This database may also be incomplete because Congress's language can be vague and jargon-filled, making some projects difficult to detect as earmarks for universities. The descriptions of earmarks in this list are more specific than Congress's wording in most cases.

When agencies described earmarks as shared by partners, they sometimes were unable to specify how much money each participant received. (Each shared earmark was counted only once in determining the total dollar amount of this year's earmarks.)

Some institutions may redistribute some of the money from earmarks to other universities or corporations, and this database may not reflect all of those redistributions.

In rare instances, universities may not have sought earmarks but nevertheless received them.

In some cases, an earmark did not go directly to the institution named but directly benefited that institution.

Some agencies may "tax" the earmarked amounts for their own administrative costs or for other purposes, thereby reducing the amount an institution actually receives. The Chronicle generally reports the amount specified by Congress for each project, where known.

Information about the items in this database was provided by agency officials, the recipients, and members of Congress who issued press releases announcing recipients of earmarked funds.


You may enter words or phrases that you want to find in the keyword search box. This query will look for the exact word(s) within the following categories in this database:
  • Descriptions of academic projects financed through earmarks;
  • Institutions receiving earmarks.
Unlike some search engines, this one does not accommodate Boolean terms to search for words in separate categories. For example, if you enter the search string "Maine and blueberries" in the keyword box, the search engine will not produce a list of earmarks designated for the University of Maine for research on blueberries.

You can nevertheless search several of the categories at once. To perform such a search, type a search term in the keyword box, and narrow the search by using the other boxes to pick specific states, institutions, and agency names.

For example, you could type "blueberries" in the search box to search for any earmark where that word appears in the project description. Then select "University of Maine" from the "Choose an institution" box to find only such earmarks given to that college.

Related charts and graphs

» Table: Top Recipients of Earmarks

» Table: How the States Rank in Academic Pork

» Chart: Escalating Academic Earmarks

» Pie charts: Earmarks by Agency

Related articles

Academic Pork Barrel Tops $2-Billion for the First Time (9/26/2003)

In Directing Dollars, Congress Favors Homeland-Security Projects (9/26/2003)

Profiles in Pork: 2 Domestic-Security Projects (9/26/2003)

A Town May Become a Terrorism Classroom (9/26/2003)

Another Record Year for Academic Pork (9/27/2002)

Profiles in pork:

» Georgetown University: Hydrogen-Fueled Buses

» Loma Linda University: National Medical Technology Testbed

» Wheeling Jesuit University: National Technology Transfer Center

» Medical University of South Carolina: Hollings Cancer Center

» University of Alaska at Fairbanks: Arctic Region Supercomputing Center

A Record Year at the Federal Trough: Colleges Feast on $1.67-Billion in Earmarks (8/10/2001)

Separating Fact From Myth About Pork-Barrel Spending and Academe (8/10/2001)

Scientists Fear the NSF Is Next Site of Earmarks (8/10/2001)

Congress Gives Colleges a Billion-Dollar Bonanza (7/28/2000)

Pork-Barrel Spending on Academe Reaches a Record $797-Million (7/23/1999)

$30-Million in Pork Helps Retrofit Loma Linda U. Hospital for Earthquakes (7/23/1999)

The Academic Pork Barrel Begins to Fill Up Again (6/19/1998)

Library Project Is a Campus Boon, but Will the Money Help the Poor? (6/19/1998)

Road to Riches: New Transportation Law Is a Bonanza for Some Universities (6/19/1998)

Congressional Earmarks for Colleges Increased by 49% for Fiscal 1997 (3/28/1997)

U. of Hawaii Appears to Have a Lock on a $45-Million Ship (3/28/1997)

Copyright © 2003 by The Chronicle of Higher Education