TRIO Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program Ends Dec. 31, 2017
In spite of Minneapolis College staff and administration writing to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), working with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and following the annual grant application process, TRIO Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Director Craig Asche (seen pictured here) was notified September 7, 2017 that the College's grant application did not score high enough to be recommended for a new five-year grant award.
Application points were deducted in the "Objectives" section of the technical review. The same program objectives highlighted in this year's grant application were also submitted in previous years, which led to Minneapolis College being awarded this grant consistently. These objectives inform the VUB program's approach to providing services to veterans preparing for college enrollment. There was no indication the criteria had changed in this year's grant application process.
"We question the validity and objectivity of the review," said Dean of Students Becky Nordin. "It's peculiar that all the application reviewers scored our objectives the same and provided similar comments as one another."
The technical review ratings lack detail and the weaknesses outlined do not reflect the objectives further highlighted in Minneapolis College's grant application narrative. According to Nordin, "Our application scored high in all other categories while the objectives seem to have been ranked unanimously poor and in a manner which does not seem to even consider the information we provided."
While VUB programs are available in other states across the nation, Minneapolis College has been Minnesota's sole provider of these higher education services for the state's veterans. The program's service area is home to more than 160,000 military veterans. Of these, 43,000 are low income. The VUB program provides veterans with developmental coursework to prepare for college-level academic success, access to placement testing, financial aid education, veterans education benefits assistance, referrals and resources, a supportive veterans community and access to many other college preparation resources.
For 43 years, Minneapolis College's VUB program has provided Minnesota's veterans access to higher education. Without this grant, many veterans in Minnesota will experience significant barriers to higher education and increased challenges in attempting to advance in their careers. TRIO VUB grants provide support, primarily, for veterans who are either first-generation college students, low-income and/or living with disabilities. While some may receive federal subsidies, many of Minnesota's military veterans will face hunger, homelessness and loss of hope. "Our veterans need our support and our state needs their valuable contributions to our growing workforce demands," stated Minneapolis College's President Dr. Sharon Pierce. "This important program provides critical support for our military service members."
After receiving notice of the grant application denial, Minneapolis College requested the U.S. Department of Education intervene to ensure an objective and detailed review. However, Minneapolis College has not received a response. Congressional delegates were asked to advocate for continued funding. VUB staff, alumni and partners have been notified. Alternative grant opportunities are being explored. Meanwhile, veterans will be offered support to the extent possible through other programs.