Bush may cut program for vets going to college

Chicago Sun-Times

Bush may cut program for vets going to college

When Katherine Hegler first tried college after leaving the Army, her grades were so bad that she ended up on academic probation. She left school and re-enlisted.

When she returned to school more recently, she had the help of Veterans Upward Bound, a decades-old federally funded program that helps vets transition from military to college life. Hegler, of Rogers Park, credits the program with helping her adjust to life outside the military and better prepare for attending Northeastern Illinois University, where she’s earning nearly all A’s.

And Hegler, 45, hopes to keep learning, someday earning a doctorate in theology.

But the program for vets, part of a national initiative that also serves low-income high school students, might soon be on the chopping block, officials told the Chicago Sun-Times. Advocates say they’ve been told by Bush administration officials that the president’s forthcoming budget proposal will ax funding for Upward Bound and another similar effort, Talent Search.

‘Outrageous decision’

The two initiatives have been in place for 40 years and serve more than 450,000 students annually at a cost of $460 million.

“It’s an outrageous decision,” said Arnold Mitchem, a native of a Chicago public housing complex who is now president of the Council for Opportunity in Education, which lobbies for universities on behalf of such programs. President Bush’s budget proposal would still need to be approved by Congress.

Program participants receive free remedial help in English, math and computer skills, among other courses. They also can receive tutoring and more intense academic counseling. Many of those students then are better prepared to move on to college.

Mitchem said the programs help people who otherwise wouldn’t pursue higher education. About 92 percent of Upward Bound graduates and 73 percent of Talent Search graduates enroll in college each year, he said. Most are low-income minorities.

About 120 students annually use the Veterans Upward Bound office at Roosevelt University to help with their studies, program director Chris Chalko said. At least a fifth go on to college, he said.

Officials with the White House and the U.S. Education Department would not comment on the budget proposal until after it is released today. But they have told Mitchem’s group they think the program is ineffective.

This entry was posted in Veterans for Common Sense News. Bookmark the permalink.