Clerical error eliminates academic program from getting federal grant

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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A clerical error made while submitting an application for federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Education has now blocked the Upward Bound program at West Virginia State University from getting a grant worth more than $500,000.

Director Barbara Cary says the budget was off $104 from the dollar amount given in the application to the amount listed in the detailed narrative that listed how the money would be spent.

Cary says without the money, she's not sure how the program will be able to run until the next wave of grants and funding become available. Upward Bound operates year round and gives high school students from low-income families a chance to get a jump start on education and college.

"I get extremely excited because education does balance the playing field," Cary said. "We have students now, former alumni, who one just finished medical school. They are attorneys, engineers, social workers, they're teachers, they're respiratory therapists. So when I think about not having an Upward Bound, I think about how these students have been dealt an unfair chance."

Former students are also worried about the fate of the program. Makayla Swayne just graduated from South Charleston High School and plans on attending Marshall University in the fall to study pre-pharmacy. Because of Upward Bound, she'll start as a sophomore.

Cary says a lot of the students are working to become first generation college students in their families. But without help from Upward Bound, that may not become a reality.

“They will not have that opportunity to become that doctor, to become that teacher, to become that lawyer because they are first generation. So this program is needed now more than ever," she said.

Cary says state leaders have been very vocal about trying to get the program the grant. U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has reportedly asked U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reconsider the application but DeVos said she could not.

Cary says they are not giving up and hope there is a resolution, for the sake of the kids.

“If we’re talking about changing lives, we’re really talking about changing generations,” she said.

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