The fight to save Upward Bound and other federal education programs slated for elimination in President Bush's proposed budget has cleared an initial obstacle in the U.S. Senate. The body passed an amended version of the 2006 federal budget that included immediate increases in Pell grants and restored funding for the TRIO programs, of which Upward Bound is a part.
The budget bill as introduced in the Senate mirrored cuts proposed earlier in the year by President Bush. Before the Senate passed the legislation, senators successfully added an amendment sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which restored many of the proposed education cuts.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) supported Kennedy's amendment.
"Pell grants truly make the difference in whether students have access to higher education, and a chance to participate fully in the American dream," Collins told the Orient. "The amendment also provides funding for TRIO, Perkins Vocational Education, and GEAR UP, all programs which have long been a priority of mine."
Collins and fellow Maine senator Olympia Snowe were among six Republicans who joined with Democrats to pass the Kennedy amendment in a 51-49 vote on March 17. The final budget passed shortly afterward by the same margin. The House and the Senate will now attempt to reconcile differences between two competing versions of the $2.6-trillion budget.
While the President's budget included the elimination of several education programs his administration claimed were ineffective, it called for gradual increases in Pell grants, which provide federal financial assistance to low-income college students. Kennedy's amendment made those increases effective immediately, raising the maximum award to $4,500.
Bowdoin has been involved in the Upward Bound program since the 1960s.
Senators John Sununu and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who both voted against the amendment, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.