July 11, 2017

Manchin Introduces Legislation to Allow West Virginia Colleges to Resubmit TRIO Applications

Washington, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced Defending Educational Opportunities for West Virginia Students Act of 2017, legislation to allow the Secretary of Education to review and score TRIO program applications even if they had minor budgeting errors that have been fixed.

“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,” Senator Manchin said. “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. I introduced this bill because it would be a shame to see effective programs like these be lost due to minor budgeting errors.”

"TRIO Programs provide services that are critical to the success of low-income and first-generation students not only in West Virginia, but throughout our nation.  The legislation introduced by Senator Manchin would help insure that programs who have a history of proven success could have their proposals considered in the event of minor budget errors.  This legislation secures the foundation of academic success for those students who already face barriers to higher education.  The loss of TRIO Programs due to minor budgeting errors robs students of hope and opportunity," said Angela Holley, President, West Virginia TRIO Association.

“I sincerely appreciate Senator Manchin’s support and efforts in coordinating and introducing legislation to authorize the U.S. Secretary of Education to review and score applications with minor budgeting errors. I am also grateful of Secretary Devos’s willingness to work with Senator Manchin in reviewing this language to resolve these issues now so that higher education may remain attainable to the many under-represented students these programs assist. The impact of the loss of funding for the Upward Bound Program at West Virginia State University (WVSU) reaches far beyond the students currently in the program, as it ends a 50-year program at our institution. It is crucial this funding is restored for the many West Virginians and their families that are affected by this loss. Without the Upward Bound Program these students would not receive the needed services and opportunities to prepare for college, many of which will go on to be first-generation college students. Senator Manchin’s efforts through the introduction of this essential legislation validates the importance of keeping WVSU at the forefront of higher education in West Virginia,” said West Virginia State University President Jenkins.

“The best hope we have for our future are our young people who want to work and stay here in West Virginia. The Federal Government depriving them of their education for, at best, a red tape technicality, is shameful.  Senator Manchin has, and continues to stand up, for all West Virginians including these students who are our neighbors’ children, our children, and our grandchildren.  Thank you Joe Manchin for making a difference,” Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said. 

"The McNair Scholarship program has been an important tool for West Virginia University and others working to find ways for many underserved populations to get the education so necessary to future success," West Virginia University President Gordon Gee said. "I want to sincerely thank Sen. Manchin for championing this and other TRiO programs – and especially for proposing these changes in the process – so that the overall goals of the program, and those it is meant to serve, do not become a victim of overzealous rule-making."

WVSU received notification on March 20, 2017 that the Department of Education would not consider its application for an Upward Bound grant due to a typographical error in the requested budget. On June 2, 2017, WVU received notification that the Department would not consider its application to reauthorize the McNair Scholars Program because of a $2 rounding error on their application. This legislation would allow schools like WVSU and WVU to resubmit their applications and prevent the loss of such vital programs because there was a small error on the initial application. The bill would have the Secretary of Education notify an applicant that there is a minor budgeting error in the application and permits the applicant to resubmit a corrected application no later than 30 days after the date of the notification. The Secretary of Education will then be authorized to review and score the corrected application.

Last month, Senator Manchin spoke with Secretary DeVos about figuring out a way for West Virginia University and West Virginia State University to reapply for Upward Bound funding, and received her assurance that the issue is being reconsidered. Senator Manchin also sent a letter to Secretary DeVos expressing deep concern with the Department of Education’s decision to reject the Upward Bound application at West Virginia State University and the McNair Scholars Program application at West Virginia University because of two minor technicalities. Read the full letter here.