Tester, Collins Continue to Fight for Low-Income, First-Generation College Students

The Senators Once Again Urge Education Department to Reverse the Rejection of Dozens of Upward Bound Applications over Minor Formatting Issues

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) wrote a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today, calling her attention to a provision in the fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding bill that “strongly encourage[s]” the Department of Education to allow institutions to resubmit corrected applications for the Upward Bound program. 

The Department of Education recently rejected grant applications for 77 Upward Bound Programs throughout the country over arbitrary formatting requirements. 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 Explanatory Statement accompanying the FY 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act is a clear, strong statement from Congress that the Department of Education should provide recourse for this year’s applicants to correct minor, unintentional deviations from the arbitrary formatting criteria,” the Senators wrote. “We strongly encourage you to heed this explicit direction from Congress.”

Last month, Senators Collins and Tester led a group of 25 bipartisan Senators in urging the Department of Education to reverse course and review the rejected applications. The two Senators, both senior members of the Appropriations Committee, also secured a provision in the FY 2017 funding bill expressing “concern that the Department has rejected and made ineligible for review several fiscal year 2017 grant applications based on minor formatting issues” and “strongly encourag[ing] the Department to provide flexibility to such applications by permitting submission of a corrected application.”

Today’s letter was signed by 19 bipartisan Senators, including Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

You can read the full letter HERE.