Tester, Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to Strengthen TRIO Programs, Support Underserved Students

TRIO programs help ensure first-generation, underserved students have equal access to a college education

In his continued effort to ensure underserved students have the opportunity to earn a college degree, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today re-introduced his bipartisan Educational Opportunity and Success Act alongside his colleagues Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). The bill would reauthorize TRIO Programs, eliminate burdensome requirements, and institute commonsense reforms to make it easier for educational institutions to reach students who would benefit from these programs. Tester co-chairs the Congressional TRIO Caucus with Senator Collins.

“As a former public school teacher I know that education is the great equalizer in this country, especially for our kids in rural communities who too often fall through the cracks” said Tester. “Every Montanan deserves equal access to a college education, and that’s why I am reintroducing this bipartisan bill to reauthorize the TRIO program for five years and make sure the next generation of leaders has the support they need to reach their full potential.” 

Nationwide, TRIO programs help ensure that underserved students from disadvantaged backgrounds, military veterans, and students in rural communities – have equal access to a college education and the support they need to prepare for, succeed in, and graduate from college.

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  • Providing small increases in outdated stipends for several TRIO programs, including Upward Bound, Veterans Upward Bound, and McNair Research participants.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 charge to keep TRIO programs funded. 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.


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