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 tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak.