The Education Dept. will reconsider 77 applications for a closed Upward Bound (CFDA Number: 84.047) competition after they were rejected due to formatting errors such as not being double-spaced, DoEd Secy. Betsy DeVos said.
The competition, which distributed $273 million for 813 awards last year, helps low-income high school students prepare for college and remain there. The rejection of the five-year grant applications drew bipartisan criticism and a request by lawmakers that the secretary use her authority to allow those programs to submit corrected applications.
Grants seekers have long complained about the stringent formatting guidelines issued by the department, which has a long practice of rejecting – without review – applications that don’t meet the various formatting requirements. The department has previously defended the practice by saying the formatting requirements make it easier for peer reviewers to read the applications.
Because the money has already been award, DoEd will use a new pool of $50 million that was created by Congress in the FY 2017 funding measure. And DeVos issued a memo saying applications for education grants would no longer be rejected over formatting errors.
More than 62,000 high school students around the country receive services through Upward Bound; DoEd said 86% of Upward Bound students who graduated from high school in the spring of 2014 enrolled in college that fall. The applications that were rejected due to formatting errors included those from University of Montana, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Talladega College in Alabama and Whittenberg University in Ohio.
“With the 2017 Omnibus spending bill, Congress provided us with the flexibility to review all of the applications previously deemed ineligible due to technical formatting requirements,” Devos said. “Going forward, I have directed all department staff to allow flexibility on formatting and other technical elements on all grant applications. Bureaucratic red tape should never get in the way of helping students.”
Info: https://goo.gl/d3eixJ (DeVos).