Upward Bound Funding Cut at HCC

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FREEPORT (WIFR) -- Stateline students who thought college was unattainable learned how to enter college by the Upward Bound program.

Now, the Department of Education has cut off the funding at the Highland Community College location, forcing the program to stop after it's summer program.

These high school students once believed going to college was impossible...
Malasia said, "I'm more set on a path. I know what I want to major in. I know what I have to do to get there."

At Upward Bound college degrees become realities.

Program Director Janet Kaiser said, "We were completely shocked when we received word that our program did not get the funding."

This summer is the last session 65-Upward Bound students will have at Highland Community College.

Kayla Smith said, "I was very upset about that."

Kaiser says funding comes from the Department of Education. It decides who gets money based on area statistics like high school drop out numbers. Kaiser says she was told there's other areas with greater needs.

Blake Gordon said, "Upward Bound is like a family. We always say that. So saying we don't need Upward Bound as much is like saying my family isn't as important as the bigger ones."

Kaiser offers one-on-one college support services she says schools just can't provide.

She said, "That's the thing that I’m struggling with right now. The schools do have different initiatives that help students learn about college, but it's not something that's engrained in the school schedule."

Kayla Smith said, "Some high schools tell you about it, some schools have college and career centers. Others don't."

More than 300 high school students have gone on to complete their Associates and Bachelor's Degrees thanks to the program.

Kayla Smith said, "How are other kids going to be able to learn about college and scholarships and financial aid without Upward Bound?"

Kaiser said, "I just don't want students to fall through the cracks."

The program has been at Highland Community college for 22-years: this fall would have made 23.

Kaiser says the program is talking with Highland Community College and alumni from the Upward Bound program as far as ideas to somehow keep the program alive. She says nothing is concrete, but talks are in progress.

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