Trump administration rejects grant for Blackfeet Nation college prep program

Participants in the University of Montana TRIO-Upward Bound program. Photo: University of Montana

Lawmakers from both parties are calling on the Trump administration to restore grants that help prepare Indian and low-income students for college.

The University of Montana was among the institutions whose Upward Bound grants were denied by the Department of Education. A summer program that served students from the Blackfeet Nation for 50 years will be shut down this year as a result, the Associated Press reported.

Republicans and Democrats alike are upset because they say the applications were rejected for simple, clerical errors. They want Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to restore the funds.

“By refusing to consider these applications for non-substantive reasons, the department jeopardizes higher educational attainment for thousands of low-income, at-risk youth and weakens the institutions affected, institutions that play vital roles in the communities we serve,” a bipartisan group of 32 members of the U.S. House wrote in a May 2 letter to the Cabinet official. “We ask that you allow the institutions excluded for minor errors the opportunity to compete based on the merit of their applications….”

The University of Montana received an Upward Bound grant of $347,625 in fiscal year 2016, according to the Department of Education. Other 2016 recipients in Montana included Salish Kootenai College and the Fort Belknap Indian Community but it wasn't reported whether they applied for grants for 2017 or whether they received them.

"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," a bipartisan letter from 25 members of the U.S. Senate read. "Many applicants that were rejected have served generations of first-time, low-income students successfully for decades."

Read More on the Story:
Uproar after fed grants to prep poor kids for college are rejected for 'formatting' errors (AP 5/9)

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