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Schumer: glitch in system shouldn’t keep MVCC from grants

By NEWSChannel 2 Staff

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged that the federal Department of Education (DOE) accept the application from Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) for a federal grant which has been rejected in error.

MVCC is applying for a Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant, which would help fund on-campus child care for adult community college learners.

However, MVCC was rejected because the DOE database did not record that MVCC is an approved institution under its System for Award Management. Schumer noted that, in fact, MVCC has been an approved institution in the federal 'Grants.gov' system since April, well before the application deadline.

MVCC has attempted to rectify the problem several times by resubmitting its application under new account numbers, but the application has been repeatedly rejected for consideration. Schumer argued that this clearly demonstrates an error in the federal database that should be fixed immediately, lest a worthy institution like MVCC miss out on the chance to compete for this federal grant, and future funding opportunities.

"It is simply unacceptable that a technological glitch is preventing a worthy institution like Mohawk Valley Community College, who did everything right in their application, from applying for this federal grant," said Schumer. "I am urging the Dept. of Education to immediately rectify their error, and review their online 'Grants.gov' database to ensure this type of glitch doesn't happen again. Mohawk Valley Community College is doing the critical work by preparing students for in-demand careers and training adult learners to reenter the workforce or switch careers-they deserve the right to apply for federal grant dollars."

Senator Schumer wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Education Arne Duncan and requested an immediate fix to the database error preventing MVCC's application from even being processed. Schumer highlighted that MVCC followed all the rules of the application, submitting it far before the deadline, and even tried multiple times to resubmit under different account numbers. The DOE online database 'Grants.gov' has repeatedly kicked out the application saying MVCC is not registered as an approved institution, despite MVCC having registered with the new database in April of 2013, two months before the rejections started appearing. In his letter, Schumer pushed the DOE to not only fix the immediate error with regard to MVCC's application for the CCAMPIS grant, but to ensure MVCC is listed as an approved institution henceforth.

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program, authorized by the Higher Education Act and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, supports the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based childcare services. Funds are used to support or establish campus-based child care programs primarily serving the needs of low-income students enrolled in Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs). Grants may be used for before- and after-school services. In addition, grants may be used to serve the child care needs of the community served by the institution.

Founded in 1946, Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, NY is a public, co-educational, two-year institution. The College is a unit of the sixty-four campus State University of New York (SUNY) System. Mohawk Valley Community College promotes student success and community involvement through a commitment to excellence and a spirit of service. MVCC is the largest college between Albany and Syracuse, enrolling approximately 7,400 students. Each year about one-third of Oneida County's graduating high school seniors attend MVCC, as well as about 1,800 adult students. MVCC students hail from counties in every part of New York State, from states across the country, and from nations around the world.

A copy of Schumer's letter appears below:

Dear Secretary Duncan:

I write today on behalf of Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) regarding a recent issue they have encountered in applying for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant. The college, located in Utica, NY, has recently had many successes and I write in hopes that your agency can help close the loop on what appears to be a major technological error that we must work to fix as soon as possible. This error is preventing MVCC from formally applying for agency funds, and though they have attempted to resolve the matter, a solution remains elusive.

MVCC officially applied for the CCAMPIS grant on Thursday, June 20, 2013 well in advance of the June 24, 2013 deadline. However, the federal grants system, 'Grants.gov,' kicked the application out, saying the college was not registered in the system for 'Award Management,' a new federal database of agencies approved to receive grants. Pursuant to paperwork the college has furnished to your agency, you will note the rejections that started to appear on June 20, 2013. These were in error. The college had been registered with this new database since April of 2013.

MVCC has tried re-submitting this grant under multiple account numbers, multiple times, but the application is always rejected. This issue indicates a clear error in the federal system that has resulted in the college having its application seeking to empower students with child care issues rejected unfairly.

Again, I am requesting that MVCC's CCAMPIS grant application be accepted for consideration as soon as possible. The college had filed its application in good faith and well before the deadline. I would also ask if you could ensure the new federal database for agencies approved to receive grants will include MVCC in perpetuity. Moreover, should your agency require further information as it relates to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Regional Director, Angelo Roefaro. He can also provide your agency with MVCC's full application package, if needed.

I look forward to resolving this error with your agency as soon as possible and thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator

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