University Loses Out on Upward Bound Award Due to Application Error

June 13, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

new-5-1474097This is why we here at Thompson offer an entire publication dedicated to the pre-award grant application process — to prevent mistakes like this recent one involving a West Virginia university.

According to West Virginia TV station WSAZ, a clerical error made by staff at West Virginia State University while submitting an application for an Upward Bound grant from the Department of Education has blocked the university from getting a grant worth more than $500,000. School officials said the budget was off $104 from the dollar amount given in the application to the amount listed in the detailed narrative that explained how the money would be spent.

Now, without the grant funds, school officials told WSAZ that they are not sure how the program will be able to run until the next wave of grants and funding become available. Upward Bound operates annually, giving high school students from low-income families a chance to attend college or pursue other higher education. “I get extremely excited because education does balance the playing field,” Director Barbara Cary told the station. “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.”

The school has even enlisted the help of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) to request that ED Secretary Betsy DeVos reconsider the application, but according to WSAZ, DeVos said she could not reconsider it.

Something we stress in the Federal Grants Development Handbook is that preparing an application for submission is more than writing the proposal and creating the budget request. Preparations should also include a timeline and a checklist for collection and completion of all the additional requirements beyond writing. Working backwards from the due date, applicants should plan to submit a day or two in advance. There are many questions to ask to make sure the application is ready for submission. How long does your organization need to review a completed proposal and approve it for submission? Does your organization give feedback on proposal improvements? Time should be scheduled to address any necessary revisions before internal approval to submit. How long do your partners or co-applicants need to review and approve their roles in the proposed program and provide letters of support or endorsement? Applicants also should confirm that all signatures provided are from authorized representatives.

When so much money, sometimes peoples’ futures are at stake, some careful application editing is a must.

Let us know your reaction to this application rejection. Do you have any similar stories?

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