Merkley urges Senate to increase funding for TRIO programs

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Jon Tester (D-MT) in leading a bipartisan group of 40 senators seeking to ensure increased financial relief for Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO). TRIO programs are eight federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, offering grants to institutions of higher education that serve and assist lower-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects.  

In a May 15 letter addressed to congressional leadership, Sen. Merkley and 39 other senators urged Congress to include significant funding for TRIO programs in an upcoming fourth coronavirus relief package. The letter comes as a response to the economic and social difficulties facing many financially vulnerable students due to the coronavirus pandemic, including lack of access to reliable internet and career counseling.

“TRIO programs help ensure that these vulnerable students receive the support they need to progress through the academic pipeline.” the senators wrote in their letter. “Through a set of outreach and student services programs, TRIO works to mitigate existing disparities in access and assistance for students. Their programs not only enrich individuals academically, but they also strengthen 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 UO currently has two federally funded TRIO programs: Student Support Services (SSS), a retention program, and the McNair Scholars Program. Both programs offer students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds or underrepresented groups benefits such as personalized academic advising and tuition support.

To read Senator Merkley’s May 15 press release documenting the letter to Congress, click here.