U.S. Senator Susan Collins Announces UPMI to receive $639,000 for Upward Bound Program

Following a months-long push led by Senator Collins, the Department of Education reversed this absurd bureaucratic decision and agreed to review UMPI’s application

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Education Committee, announced today that the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) will receive $639,257 in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Education’s Upward Bound Program. Upward Bound helps low-income, first-generation, and other students from disadvantaged backgrounds pursue higher education.

Earlier this year, due to a minor line spacing issue in UMPI’s original application, the Department of Education prohibited UMPI’s grant application from being reviewed, jeopardizing services to nearly 1,000 students. Following a months-long push led by Senator Collins, the Department of Education reversed this absurd bureaucratic decision and agreed to review UMPI’s full application.

“I am absolutely delighted to announce that UMPI has been awarded more than $639,000 for its Upward Bound Program,” said Senator Collins. “The Department of Education’s initial refusal to review this application due to a minor line spacing issue was absurd. It is no surprise that when the Department reversed this decision—after a months-long push from the Maine delegation—and agreed to review the application on the merits, UMPI’s application was selected. This funding will help nearly 1,000 students over the next five years who depend on Upward Bound to pursue their higher education goals.”

Senator Collins championed two provisions that were included in the fiscal year 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provided the Department with the ability to review the Upward Bound applications. The first was an additional $50 million for TRIO for which Senator Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, successfully advocated in a letter last year. The second was language authored by Senator Collins that “strongly encouraged” the Department “to provide flexibility to [affected] applicants by permitting submission of a corrected application.”

Senator Collins worked tirelessly with other members of the Maine delegation and a bipartisan group of Senators to urge the Department of Education to overturn its initial rejection of dozens of Upward Bound applications. In addition to securing additional money for TRIO and pressing for action in the Omnibus, Senator Collins joined Senator King and Representatives Poliquin and Pingree in sending a letter to Secretary DeVos on April 14th to express their strong concern with the Department’s decision. Moreover, on April 28th, Senator Collins and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) led a letter signed by 25 Senators, including Senator King, urging the Department of Education to read and score these grant applications. On May 15th, Senators Collins and Tester sent a letter signed by 19 Senators, including Senator King, to Secretary DeVos calling her attention to the language Senator Collins authored in the omnibus.

The Council for Opportunity in Education recently sent Senator Collins a letter to thank her for her leadership in Congress.

“Thank you for your strong leadership in galvanizing your colleagues in Congress to ensure that students served by TRIO Upward Bound programs across the nation will not miss out on further enrichment opportunities because of bureaucratic oversight,” wrote Maureen Hoyler, the President of the Council for Opportunity in Education. “Because of your efforts, students who participate in currently funded Upward Bound programs will have the opportunity to continue benefitting from the life-changing academic supportive services provided by TRIO…Without champions like you, the trajectory of the program’s success would have been cut short.”

Last month, Senator Collins led 37 Senators in writing to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to advocate for funding for TRIO in the fiscal year 2018 spending bill.