For many people, Upward Bound stepped in and helped them prepare for a future they may not have even imagined yet. Through tutoring, mentoring and many other activities, the program has helped students from low-income families prepare for and succeed in college and beyond.

Unfortunately, a focus on grammatical errors may be inhibiting the program from its important work. 

Chronicle reports that the U.S. Department of Education has denied grants from several programs because their applications used the wrong fonts, spacing and other minor specifics.

“The level of strictness that the department is imposing is totally mind-blowing,” said Kimberly A. Jones, vice president for public policy and communications. “This is why people don’t like the government.”

The 40 programs that were rejected serve as many as 2,400 students. Without the grants they applied for, they’d have to find other means to fund their operations. Meanwhile, current and former members of the program have begun appealing to the Department of Education so that they can receive funding before running out of money.

Eddie L. Chambers, the program director for Upward Bound at Wittenberg, sat down with Linda Byrd-Johnson, acting deputy assistant secretary for higher-education programs, to discuss the matter and try and find a solution.

“But in the end, she told me, ‘A rule is a rule.’ She told me, ‘Eddie, I too have to abide by the rules.’”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is reportedly aware of the issue but hasn’t commented yet.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is one of the schools whose application was rejected. In its specific case, two infographics used in its applications used one-and-half line spacing instead of double-spacing. Something that small could affect the futures of the 129 students its Upward Bound program serves.

“I should have seen it,” said Darylen Cote, directs Presque Isle’s program. “Maybe I should have sat there with a ruler.”

In response, supporters of the Maine University have sent DeVos more than 1,100 letters – some even asking her to “apply some common sense” –  since they were notified of the rejection.

Hopefully, the exposure of this situation adds a sense of urgency to the Department of Education so that this issue can be resolved.