May 1, 2015
On Thursday, April 30, 2015, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training sponsored a hearing entitled, “Improving College Access and Completion for Low-Income and First-Generation Students.” Dr. Joe May, Chancellor of the Dallas County Community Colleges District (and former Student Support Services Director) stated (.pdf), “Talent Search is enabling us to work with high school students to prepare for college. Upward Bound is assisting our Latino students with the transition to college. Student Support Services is helping them complete the degree.” Meanwhile, Dr. Charles J. Alexander, Associate Vice Provost for Student Diversity and Director of the Academic Advancement Program at the University of California-Los Angeles, highlighted (.pdf) McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement among the many academic success programs hosted on the campus through a combination of state, federal, institutional, and foundation funds. Dr. Laura W. Perna, Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education publication (.pdf), Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States — 45 Year Trend Report, focused on the successful outcomes (.pdf) of TRIO programs, as evidenced by research and evaluations. Finally, Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper, President of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), explicitly called for a strengthened federal commitment (.pdf) in the TRIO and GEAR UP programs.
Although the general tone of the hearing was positive, Subcommittee Members asked pointed questions whether sufficient data existed about the programs and what, specifically, allows the programs to be successful and in what ways. Witnesses urged the Subcommittee to look at ways to make TRIO and other programs more flexible so as to allow greater discretion at the programmatic level. Subcommittee Chair, Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, shared that the matter itself was a “very personal issue” for her. “As someone who grew up in extreme poverty, I know firsthand what it takes to earn a degree in difficult circumstances as well as what that degree means for one’s opportunity for advancement.” Representative Foxx was the first Director of Student Support Services and a former Upward Bound Director at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
March 8, 2015
The Federal TRIO Programs ("TRIO") emerged from recognition by Congress that financial aid alone is insufficient to ensure college completion. In the Report Language to the 1980 HEA Reauthorization, Congress stated — "Without the information, counseling and academic services provided by the TRIO programs, disadvantaged students are often unable to take advantage of the financial assistance provided by the other Title IV programs."
You may view or download the following document in its entirety by clicking here (.pdf).