The Academic Pork Barrel, 2010

The continuing debate over whether to end the practice of Congressional earmarking is anything but academic for higher education.

Colleges, universities and other academic organizations received just shy of $2 billion in grants directed to them by individual members of Congress in the 2010 fiscal year, an Inside Higher Ed analysis shows.

A review of appropriations bills, Congressionally mandated disclosure forms and lawmakers’ news releases revealed grants to 875 institutions, totaling $1,982,532,150. (That total may be incomplete; while required disclosure of earmarks has been strengthened under federal law, and many lawmakers like to boast about the money they bring home to their local colleges and other constituents, it is still difficult to follow the flow of money with perfect precision.) That’s roughly one-eighth of the overall amount of $16.5 billion earmarked by Congress in 2010, according to an estimate by Citizens Against Government Waste.

A database of institutions and their earmarks, which is searchable by institution and agency and sortable alphabetically or by the total amount of directed grant funds an institution received, can be found here.

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