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May 21, 2020

Tester Demands Congress Provide Assistance for Low-Income, First-Generation College Students Amid COVID-19

Senator works to help those striving to earn college degrees, pushes for TRIO funding in next coronavirus relief bill

As part of his continued effort to support and provide much needed resources to students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a letter to Congressional Leadership requesting additional funding for Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) in any upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation.

“Low-income students, students with disabilities, first-generation students, youth who are homeless, have limited English proficiency, and who are in foster care, students in rural communities, and military veterans—all of whom already face greater obstacles to their learning experiences are often encountering a more substantial impact from COVID-19,” Tester and his colleagues wrote. “These students are at risk of falling through the cracks of our system and permanently losing a chance to pursue higher levels of education.”

The letter continues: “TRIO programs help ensure that these vulnerable students receive the support they need to progress through the academic pipeline...Their programs not only enrich individuals academically, but they also enhance our workforce’s economic prospects by empowering more people to earn high school diplomas and post-secondary degrees. The assistance that TRIO program professionals can provide to these students is even more necessary during the pandemic.”

The inclusion of funding for TRIO Programs would allow for increased program capacity as well as expanded access to resources such as tutoring, literacy programs, wrap-around services, and assistance with college planning and applications. These programs are vital for providing critical assistance to these students during the COVID-19 crisis and will help ensure they have the tools they need to complete their degrees.

As co-chair of the Congressional TRIO caucus and a former teacher and school board member, Tester has been fighting tooth and nail to ensure Montana students have the resources they need to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, he sent a letter to Senate Leadership demanding Congress prioritize public education aid in any new coronavirus relief packages. He secured nearly $100,000 to help Montana libraries provide online services to students, and he announced more than $41 million for Montana K-12 schools to help meet the needs of students as they transition to online learning last month. He also recently announced that the Montana Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund would receive more than $8.7 million in funding to bolster education in the state.

Tester’s letter to Senate and House Leadership is available HERE.

Visit for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.


Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768


Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647


Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586


Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462


8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974


130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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