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Campaigning for Upward Bound

Democratic Representative Kathy Castor set hopes high for an Upward Bound revival in a Monday morning press conference held at Middleton High School.

“In May, President Bush’s Department of Education announced cuts to the Upward Bound program, which we’ve had here at the University of South Florida for 40 years, helping kids make the transition to college and be successful college graduates,” Castor said. “A lot of folks are up in arms about it.”

Rep. Castor

The College Cost Reduction Act, approved on June 13 by the Education and Labor Committee, aims to provide the single-largest increase in student aid since the GI bill. However, with Bush cutting programs like Upward Bound from the budget, the impact has been significantly weakened. An amendment to this act will ultimately restore federal funding to Upward Bound.

If the amendment passes, it could translate into lower interest rates on subsidized student loans, greater Pell grant awards and even partial tuition reimbursement for undergrads seeking a teaching career in high needs public schools.

Castor is also looking to restore Upward Bound for Florida A&M and the University of Florida. She explained that the College Cost Reduction Act is in line for a full House review today. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, is introducing the HR 2669 bill that will restore $120 million to a number of Upward Bound programs, including USF, FAMU and UF. It will then move to the Senate for final approval.

“I anticipate the bill will receive strong bipartisan support,” she said.

Upward Bound has vastly augmented student success in every sector, from tutoring to professional etiquette to networking. The comprehensive program has also increased the rate at which a participant can complete secondary education and enroll into a postsecondary institution. The cut in funding was applied to 100 universities.

USF hosts the state’s largest program, with $670,000 a year at stake. This decision will drastically impact 140 promising secondary students from poverty-stricken communities throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties.

Castor is confident that the amendment will pass through both houses this week.

“It is inexplicable why the Bush administration would cut this program because of the dividends it pays later on,” she said. “We all know this: If a student graduates from college, they tend to make a little bit more money … and that only benefits our community.”