It looks like President Donald Trump’s proposed education budget is not the only thing lower-income and poor students need to worry about.
After the administration suggested a $9.2 billion cut, which would reportedly reduce or eliminate more than 30 federal programs benefitting disadvantaged students across the country, several reports have emerged claiming the Department of Education is now rejecting grant applications over simple formatting errors – like double-spacing, wrong font or typeface.
As The Chronicle for Higher Education reported, the department, headed by Secretary Betsy DeVos, has turned down at least 40 colleges and organizations that applied for federal grants for Upward Bound programs that help poor students prepare for college by offering them tuition and counseling citing format violations.
To put things into perspective, this move would affect over 2,400 students belonging to lower-income families, but the only thing DeVos cares about is if the application looks formal enough.
Eddie L. Chambers, the Upward Bound director at Wittenberg University in Ohio, said he met with Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher-Education Programs Linda Byrd-Johnson after the department declined their appeal.
“But in the end, she told me, ‘A rule is a rule,’” Chambers recalled of the meeting. “It’s more about format than it is about content.”
It is important to note the school has received millions of dollars in federal funding over the last 50 years for the program. However, this time around, it apparently violated the sacred double-spacing rule necessitating “no more than three lines per vertical inch” – how horrible!
The University of Maine at Presque Isle also suffered similar fate for daring to include two infographics in each of its 129 applications and using one-and-half-line spacing.
“I should have seen it,” said Darylen Cote, the program directs at the school. "Maybe I should have sat there with a ruler."
The Upward Bound program at this school, which serves students from 16 high schools in rural Aroostook County than the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, only has a few more months before its funding expires in September, according to The Chronicle.
Meanwhile, DeVos has been eerily silent on the matter. She has declined several requests from universities to reconsider the decision while failing to acknowledge several others.
Apparently, in Trump’s America double-spacing and proper formatting is much more important than the future of thousands of lower-income students across the country.