July 11, 2017

Senator Manchin introduces bill to get lost education funding back | Charleston Gazette-Mail

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is introducing a bill which would could help two West Virginia universities access federal dollars they lost out on because of small mistakes on their applications, according to a news release.

Manchin’s bill, “Defending Education Opportunities for West Virginia Students Act,” would allow the U.S. Education Secretary to review applications for TRIO funding, even if colleges had minor budgeting errors on their applications.

The U.S. Department of Education offers a handful of federal grant programs that aim to help children and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds go to college and succeed. Collectively, they are known as TRIO programs.

On WVU’s application, the university rounded up a figure by $2, meaning it lost out on more than $200,000 to fund its McNair Scholars program. This program, part of the TRIO family, helps low-income and first generation college students already in college to pursue graduate degrees.

On WVSU’s application, officials made a small clerical mistake of $104 on a supporting document to go with its application, meaning it lost out on half a million dollars to fund part of its Upward Bound program, another branch of TRIO. This program helps low-income and first generation middle and high school students earn free college credits before they attend college, among other things.

Manchin’s bill would allow the two schools to resubmit their applications, according to the news release. It would require the Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, to notify schools of a minor error on their application and allow them to submit a corrected application within 30 days.

Last month, Manchin said DeVos assured him her department is reconsidering the issue with the two applications.

Officials from the Education Department would not confirm DeVos made those assurances at the time, and they have not yet responded to another request for comment.

“In West Virginia, we have a lot of first time college students, many of whom come from low-income families that simply do not have the resources or experience to help their children navigate things like college applications, financial aid, and finally college itself,” Manchin said in the release. “TRIO programs at West Virginia State University, West Virginia University and our other institutions fill those voids and inspire students to achieve more than they ever thought was possible.”