Tester Fights for First Generation College Students at University of Montana

Senator Urges DOE to Reconsider Grant Application Initially Rejected for Minor Formatting Issue

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are calling on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to reverse course and review dozens of applications for grant funding for first generation college students. The Department recently rejected these applications due to ridiculous formatting requirements.

Tester, Collins and 23 other Senators have learned that the U.S. Education Department denied dozens of applications for Upward Bound funding because they were not formatted according to arbitrary requirements. The Upward Bound program seeks to help low-income and first-generation students access higher education. Last year, 61,747 students nationwide relied on Upward Bound to succeed in high school and prepare for college.

In a letter to Secretary DeVos, Senators Tester and Collins called out the absurdity of the Department’s rejections.

“The decision to exclude applications from consideration due to minor, non-substantive concerns is a clear example of the harm that results from inflexible, bureaucratic procedures,” the Senators wrote. “Many applicants that were rejected have served generations of first-time, low-income students successfully for decades.”

At least four dozen institutions in at least 17 other states have been rejected for the same or similar reasons.

“The Department of Education should be supporting successful partnerships, not constructing bureaucratic roadblocks while administering Upward Bound and other TRIO programs,” the Senators added.

The Senators highlighted inconsistencies in the Department of Education’s formatting requirements and called on Secretary DeVos to reverse these rejections.

Barring reevaluation, thousands of low-income and first-generation students could be denied a chance to access higher education because of inadvertent formatting issues.

The letter was also signed by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Steve Daines (R-MT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Luther Strange (R-AL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), Edward Markey (D-MA), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Charles Schumer (D-NY). The signed letter can be found HERE