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Veterans Upward Bound receives million-dollar grant

The Veterans Upward Bound program has received a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Higher Education. This funding will help aid the program and veterans returning to school to further their higher education for another five years.

The VUB program has received funding and grants from the DHE since 1978 and reapplies for the grant every five years. When asked what the $1.6 million grant money was spent on, Randy Wilson, the director of VUB, said the money was spent on veterans to help them with tutoring classes and furthering education.

“We also spend it to help them with financial aid application and applying for school and things of that nature,” Wilson said. “Most of our students aren’t likely to go to school without some kind of extra help, so we work a lot with low-income students or first-generation students.”

Wilson said the grant writing process was highly competitive, and that funding won’t be awarded unless “you write a really good grant.” The grant the DHE provided had 300 applications, and only 51 were accepted to receive funding. The VUB program at Weber State University serves the Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties, and 144 members can be enrolled at one time.

The VUB is part of WSU’s TRiO programs, a set of federally funded college opportunities programs. TRiO supports 850,000 first-generation, low-income students from sixth grade to college with more than 2,800 programs nationally.

The TRiO page on WSU’s website stated that more than 7,000 students with disabilities and approximately 6,000 U.S. veterans are currently enrolled in the TRiO programs. The Educational Opportunity Act of 1964 established an experimental program known as Upward Bound, and then TRiO programs were established in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty to ensure educational opportunity to all Americans, regardless of economic circumstance.

According to Dan Czech, the enrollment adviser for the program, the role of the program is to help prepare veterans to enter college. Czech said that besides VUB, there are a number of other TRiO programs on campus, such as Student Support Services and traditional Upward Bound.

“The program itself is technically a pre-college program . . . designed specifically for veterans,” Czech said about the VUB mission. “Our role is to help them build basic skills in areas such as math, English, computer literacy and so on so that they are ready to start school.”

There is no age requirement to participate in the program, but to be a qualified veteran and participate, veterans must have at least 181 days of active duty. Veterans must also be released with no less than a general discharge and must be either a low-income or first-generation college student.

“There’s no requirement as long as they are a qualified veteran,” Czech said. “So we get young veterans that are right out of the military, then we get some veterans that are in their 60s and everywhere in between.”

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