College Prep Denied for Failing to Double Space Applications

Upward Bound appDozens of colleges and organizations won't receive funding for Upward Bound programs because their grant applications failed to meet formatting requirements. The U.S. Department of Education, now led by Betsy deVos, rejected applications that would have served at least 2,400 low-income students who would have received tutoring and counseling to help prepare them for college.

Applications missed the requirements because they weren't double spaced, used the wrong font, or forgot other formatting details.

Although members of Congress have appealed to Department of Education representatives, the decision seems to stand. The acting deputy assistant secretary said, "A rule is a rule. . . . I, too, have to abide by the rules." One rule is for "no more than three lines per vertical inch." In one application, shown here, an infographic contained text spaced one-and-a-half lines apart instead of two.

Image source.


  • What's your view of this situation? Is the Department of Education being too harsh, or is "a rule a rule"?
  • How does this compare to grading of your writing assignments? Have you felt that instructors have been too nitpicky? What's the value of an instructor calling out formatting errors? 
  • The Chronicle says this decision doesn't seem motivated by the Trump Administration's cost-cutting plans. Still, what could be the political fallout if the Department of Education doesn't change its mind?