Our nation has asserted a commitment to providing educational opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance. In support of this commitment, Congress established a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America's economic and social life. These programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRIO programs (initially just three programs). While student financial aid programs help students overcome financial barriers to higher education, TRIO programs help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.
As mandated by Congress, two-thirds of the students served must come from families with incomes under $33,000, where neither parent graduated from college. More than 2,800 TRIO projects currently serve nearly one million low-income Americans. Many programs serve students in grades six through 12. Thirty-seven percent of TRIO students are Caucasian, 35 percent African-American, 19 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American, 4 percent Asian-American and 1 percent are listed as "Other," including multiracial students. Twenty-two thousand students with disabilities and more than 25,000 U.S. veterans are currently enrolled in the TRIO Programs as well. For more race and ethnicity data for each TRIO program (Upward Bound, UB Math/Science, SSS, Talent Search, EOC and McNair), see "Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Federal TRIO programs," a News You Can Use fact sheet from the National TRIO Clearinghouse.
More than 1,000 colleges, universities, community colleges and agencies now offer TRIO programs in America, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. TRIO funds are distributed to institutions through competitive grants.
Students in the Upward Bound program are four times more likely to earn an undergraduate degree than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in TRIO. Nearly 20 percent of all Black and Hispanic freshmen who entered college in 1981 received assistance through the TRIO Talent Search or EOC programs and students in the TRIO Student Support Services program are more than twice as likely to remain in college than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in the program.