Montana Public Radio

Department Of Education Will Reconsider Upward Bound Grant Application

May 24, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education will now reconsider the University of Montana’s grant application for a low-income college prep program.

UM’s application for Upward Bound requested just under $2 million to fund the program for 75 students from this year through 2022. But it was rejected because of a technicality; one page was single-spaced, instead of double-spaced.

That caught the attention of Montana’s senior senator, Jon Tester:

“It was disbelief. I mean, really – government at its worst,” Tester said.

Sen. Jon Tester
Credit U.S. Senate

Seventy-seven applications from other universities were rejected for similar technicalities. The move drew bipartisan criticism. Republican Senator Steve Daines signed a letter of support for UM’s Upward Bound program.

The U.S. Department of Education can now reconsider those applications. That’s because congress included an additional $50-million-dollars in funding for such programs in a spending bill passed earlier this month.
Tester says it took some pressure to make Education Secretary Betsy DeVos see the light.

“We also dropped in a bill that would take $500,000 from her personal office budget every week she refuses to consider the University of Montana’s Upward Bond application,” Tester said.

The measure never got a hearing, but according to Tester it gained some steam in Congress and he thinks it caught DeVos’s attention.

It’s important to note the Education Department will only reconsider the grant applications. There’s no guarantee those applications will be approved.

The director of UM’s Upward Bound program could not be reached for comment.