Washington, D.C. - Following a push led by U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the budget agreement released Sunday night included language urging the U.S. Department of Education to allow the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) and other institutions to fix minor formatting issues on grant applications for the Upward Bound competition.
Last month, the Department of Education denied dozens of applications, including one submitted by UMPI, for Upward Bound funding because they were not formatted according to arbitrary requirements issued by the Obama Administration. In the case of UMPI, the issue was with the line spacing of two info-graphics on two of the application’s 65 pages. The Department’s refusal to review UMPI’s application risks denying 960 disadvantaged high school students the chance to fulfill their academic potentials over the next five years.
“Upward Bound and other TRIO programs are so important to our state, where we have a large number of first generation college students,” said Senator Collins. “It is absurd that the Department of Education rejected the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s application over a minor spacing issue, and it is an example of what makes people so angry at Washington. I fought hard to obtain language that strongly encourages the Department to take another look at these applications and not reject them for small formatting problems that have nothing to do with the merits of the applications nor the students that they serve.”
Last week, Senator Collins and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) led a group of 25 bipartisan Senators in writing to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, urging the Department to reverse course and review the rejected applications. In addition, last month, Senator Collins and the other three members of the Maine delegation wrote to Secretary DeVos to express their strong concern that the Department refused to review UMPI’s application.
The Upward Bound program seeks to help low-income and first-generation students access higher education.