Bulletin September 2006
Volume 74 | Issue 5
September 2006

Public Policy Update

The U.S. Department of Education has recently proposed a priority for the Upward Bound program. This new priority is aimed at focusing federal resources on students most in need of academic assistance and increasing the program’s effectiveness by increasing the number of low-income, first generation students with the “greatest academic need” who are able to participate. However, the new priority limits services to ninth grade students who meet specific criteria selected by the department.
The Consortium for Government Relations in Student Affairs has issued a letter to James Manning, acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education, outlining the following concerns, which are excerpted from the letter:

  • According to the Department of Education profile, 44 percent of Upward Bound participants entered the program after the ninth grade, and the new priorities may penalize as many as 26,800 participants simply because of their grade level.
  • The requirement that 30 percent of newly admitted students be “at high academic risk for failure” assumes that other students do not need Upward Bound’s services. Removing individual programs’ flexibility to assist students would damage Upward Bound’s mission of helping first-generation needy students get into college.
  • The  process  utilized to  achieve  changes  to  the  program exchanges  a  congressional  priority  for  an  administrative one. The department is proposing to change the rules without seeking proper congressional debate.
  • This process will set a precedent for the department to redesign other programs outside the normal legislative and regulatory processes.

The Consortium has urged that the proposed priority setting effort be discarded in favor of working with Congress and the higher education community to develop promising approaches to solving this problem.

Online resources

  • The Public Policy Forum has been created on the ACUI Forum, www.forum.acui.org, as a tool to generate discussion on topics of concern to members.
  • As the election season unfolds, one link of particular interest available at ACUI’s online Public Policy Center is Project Vote-Smart, which has information on every candidate from president to local officials. It also tracks legislation in the U.S. Congress, campaign finances, and interest group ratings for legislators. The link is listed on the Public Policy Center page, or may be accessed directly at www.vote-smart.org.

If you would like to volunteer to follow a specific policy topic or legislation for your state, please contact Kim Savage, ACUI Public Policy Team leader, at kim@uic.edu.