Tester Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Boost First-Generation, Low-Income Students Through Improvements to TRIO

Tester’s bipartisan bill will strengthen TRIO programs providing educational opportunities to underserved Montana students

Continuing his efforts to bolster educational opportunities for underserved Montana youth, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is joining bipartisan colleagues Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Shelly More Capito (R-WV) in the push to strengthen TRIO programs through the reintroduction of the Educational Opportunity and Success Act.

“My parents always said—and I still believe—that public education is the great equalizer in this country,” said Tester. “TRIO programs have a proven track record of breaking down barriers and helping to ensure Montanans from all backgrounds can access quality education. This bipartisan bill will reauthorize the TRIO program for five years, paving the way for young Montana leaders to succeed well into the future.”

Federal TRIO programs help provide low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities educational opportunities and support to prepare for and succeed in higher education.

Tester’s Educational Opportunity and Success Act will improve TRIO programming by reauthorizing funding for TRIO programs for five years and making several technical fixes to TRIO programming, including:

  • Updating the TRIO grant application process by preventing the Department of Education from penalizing or rejecting applications with minor technical errors.
  • Providing small increases in outdated stipends for several TRIO programs, including Upward Bound, Veterans Upward Bound, and McNair Research participants.
  • Updating TRIO eligibility criteria to align with current FAFSA requirements.
  • Allowing college and university financial aid offices to more easily identify potential participants using their Pell Grant eligibility.

As the Senate Co-Chair of the Congressional TRIO Caucus, Tester has led the push to fund the program for years. He secured more than $4 million in TRIO Student Support Services funding for 14 Montana colleges and universities to increase college retention and graduation rates for low-income Montanans. In response to the impact of the COVID-19 on Montana colleges and universities, Tester led a group of his colleagues in asking for emergency TRIO funding to support students during the pandemic.