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History of the Federal TRIO Programs

Image reads TRIO Student Support Services

SAIL is one of 1,027 Student Support Services (SSS) projects across the nation, which are part of the federally-funded TRIO programs. The purpose of these educational opportunity programs is to increase college attendance and graduation rates among traditionally underrepresented groups: first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities.

The history of TRIO is progressive. It began with Upward Bound, which emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. In 1965, Talent Search, the second pre-college outreach program, was created as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services, which was originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments to serve undergraduate students and became the third in a series of educational opportunity programs. By the late 1960s, the term "TRIO" was coined to describe these three federal educational equity programs, and the label has persisted.

Over the years, the TRIO Programs have been expanded and improved to provide a wider range of services and to reach more students who need assistance. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 added the fourth program to the TRIO group by authorizing the Educational Opportunity Centers for adult students who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. Amendments in 1986 established the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program to prepare TRIO students for doctoral studies, and in 1990, the Department of Education created the Upward Bound Math/Science program to address the need for specific instruction in the fields of math and science. The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 authorized the TRIO Dissemination Partnership program to encourage the replication of successful practices of TRIO programs. Finally, the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001 amended the Student Support Services (SSS) program to permit the use of program funds for direct financial assistance (Grant Aid) for current SSS participants who are receiving Federal Pell Grants.

For more information about TRIO programs, please visit the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). COE is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities throughout the United States. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO programs to specifically help low-income students enter college and graduate. 790,000 low-income students and students with disabilities each year receive college access and retention services through its member colleges and agencies.