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TRiO History

TRiO is a set of federally-funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree. 790,000 low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities — from sixth grade through college graduation — are served by over 2,800 programs. TRiO programs provide academic tutoring, personal counseling, mentoring, financial guidance, and other supports necessary for educational access and retention. 

Where Did TRiO Originate?

The Federal TRiO Programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address the serious social and cultural barriers to education in America. TRiO began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. The Educational Opportunity Act of 1964 established an experimental program known as Upward Bound. Then, in 1965, the Higher Education Act created Talent Search. Finally, another program, Special Services for Disadvantaged Students (later known as Student Support Services), was launched in 1968. Together, this "trio" of federally-funded programs encouraged access to higher education for low-income students.

Who Is Served?

As mandated by Congress, two-thirds of the students served must come from families with incomes at 150% or less of the federal poverty level and in which neither parent graduated from college. More than 2,800 projects currently serve close to 790,000 low-income Americans. Many programs serve students in grades six through 12. Thirty-five percent of students are Whites, 35% are African-Americans, 19% are Hispanics, 4% are Native Americans, 3% are Asian-Americans, and 4% are listed as "Other," including multiracial students. More than 7,000 students with disabilities and approximately 6,000 U.S. veterans are currently enrolled in the programs as well.

How It Works

More than 1,000 colleges, universities, community colleges, and agencies now offer TRiO Programs in America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. Funds are distributed to institutions through competitive grants.