April 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressmen Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and José E. Serrano (NY-15) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and issued the following statement in response to the Department of Education’s recent decision to deny funding for Upward Bound TRIO grant proposals submitted by Fordham University and Columbia University in New York City. Upward Bound is a program that helps low-income high school students prepare to enter and successfully complete college.

“Upward Bound is an essential educational resource for some of our most vulnerable students, helping them graduate from high school in a timely fashion and putting them on a path to higher education,” said Rep. Espaillat. “It is unfortunate that Secretary DeVos rejected funding for Upward Bound programs at Fordham University and Columbia University that have collectively provided New York students invaluable educational services for decades due to a minor typographical error and a spacing issue.”

Rep. Serrano said: “The Upward Bound is critical for students in the Bronx, and the rejection of these applications will mean less opportunities for fewer students. The program is a key driver in helping low-income and potential first generation college students successfully enter and complete college. The grounds under which the U.S. Department of Education rejected the applications from Fordham University and Columbia University is disturbing and lacks common sense. Our students deserve better. At the very least these New York institutions –and the students they serve- deserve to have their applications reconsidered based on their merits.”

In the letter sent to Secretary DeVos, Reps. Espaillat and Serrano express concerns on the misguided decisions, which were not based on the merits of either projects’ proposal and the adverse impact to students eligible for the Upward Bound Program in New York City. Dozens of college applications from all around the country for grants, valued at millions of dollars, have been rejected by the U.S. Department of Education for trivial matters related to the application’s format, like font size/type and spacing, or typographical errors, rather than content or merit. If these universities’ Upward Bound Programs fail to receive funding, thousands of low-income and first-generation students in New York City and beyond will not be able to participate in the program this year, further putting their academic achievement at peril and threatening successful completion of secondary education.

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Media inquiries:

Candace Randle Person (Espaillat) at

Paola Amador (Serrano) at