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About TRIO

  • What is TRIO?

    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

  • How Did TRIO Originate?

    TRIO programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address the serious social and cultural barriers to education in America. Previously, policymakers only considered the issue of financing a college education. TRIO began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty .

    Listen to a telephone conversation between President Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, 5 November, 1964, regarding the passing of legislation that created Upward Bound!


    The Educational Opportunity Act of 1964 established an experimental program known as Upward Bound. Then, in 1965, the Higher Education Act created Educational Talent Search. Finally, another program, Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, later known as Student Support Services, was launched in 1968. Together, this “trio” of federally-funded programs encouraged access to higher education for low-income students.

    By 1998, the TRIO programs had become a vital pipeline to opportunity, serving traditional students, displaced workers, and veterans. The original three programs had grown to seven, adding Educational Opportunity Centers and Veterans Upward Bound in 1972, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program in 1986, Upward Bound Math/Science in 1990.

    TRIO programs, like Federal Pell Grants, are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.