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TRIO Student Support Services

History and Mission of TRIO SSS

History of the Federal TRIO Programs

Most people unfamiliar with TRIO will ask, “What does ‘TRIO’ stand for?” This short  history should help to clarify what TRIO is.

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.

Johnson’s War on Poverty

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 Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program in 1986, Upward Bound Math/Science in 1990.

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

For more information on TRIO programs click the following links:

Federal TRIO Programs

Federal TRIO Programs include: Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math/Science, Veterans’ Upward Bound, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Centers, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, and Training Grants. The Federal TRIO Programs are educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and to provide relevant training to directors and staff. TRIO includes five outreach and support programs targeted to serve and assist low-income, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to Post-baccalaureate programs and one training grant program for staff.

Council for Opportunity in Education

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the United States. 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.

Alabama Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel

The Alabama Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (AAEOPP) is a non-profit organization designed to bring together into a work and study community those persons who have an active interest in or who are professionally involved in broadening accessibility to and success in formal postsecondary education.

Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel

The Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (SAEOPP) is a non-profit organization of eight states whose members are involved in equal educational opportunity for disadvantaged individuals, while advancing the ideals of student access, persistence and completion of postsecondary education. SAEOPP is dedicated to supporting TRIO Personnel through professional development, education, and activism for TRIO.  Our member states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee.


The UM TRIO Student Support Services Program is committed to the success of first generation, low-income students, and students with documented disabilities. Our mission is to assist them in successfully completing their postsecondary education, while promoting a supportive institutional climate.


Persistence, Performance, Completion

With students always at the center of our work, our primary goal is student persistence, performance, and completion. Everything we do is in service to this goal.  We coach students to success! These are the goals that we work to achieve or exceed, each year.

Persistence Goal:

85% of all participants served by the UM TRIO SSS Program will persist from one academic year to the beginning of the next academic year.

Performance Goal:

65% of all enrolled TRIO SSS participants served will meet the performance level required to stay in good academic standing at the University of Montevallo.  Good academic standing at UM is defined as a cumulative earned grade point average of at least 2.0 and an accumulated earned credit rate of at least 67%.

Completion Goal:

55% of new participants served each year will graduate from the University of Montevallo with a bachelor’s degree within six years.

Funded to Serve Each Year: 200


Our web pages tell you about the SSS program experience, but what do our SSS participants say about their experiences?

 Tracey BettisTracey Bettis

A person in one of my classes told me about TRIO and how exciting it was to be in the program. I explained to them that about being older and it wouldn’t really benefit me. That was incorrect, as commuters, first generation students, and anyone with disabilities this program is designed for you. I applied to the program and realized it could provide so much and it assisted me with transitioning from military to civilian life.

I would recommend TRIO to any student that struggles or has little interaction with others. The staff have passion to assist all students by providing direction, support and resources. TRIO is a great program and will provide a support system all the way through graduation.

Dee Dee Smith

Da’Qunaika “Dee Dee” Smith

TRIO SSS means being part of a family. TRIO has helped me accomplish a lot of good things at Montevallo. Without the good people of TRIO I would probably not be as successful at college. TRIO has helped me open up more to people as well. I love Ms. Bree, Ms. Tabb, and Dr. Myers! You guys are the best!

Mandi Aiken

Mandi Aiken

I am a freshman here at University of Montevallo and this is my first year of being in the TRIO Program. From day one I have felt welcomed in the TRIO center. Everyone has been so nice and helpful throughout my entire semester. All the staff members are all supportive and are willing to help in any way. You can feel the genuine support the staff members give and show on how they want every student to succeed. I have found that the tutoring, the program offers, to be very beneficial and the workshops helpful.

I also appreciate the quiet areas and computers that are there to utilize if needed. It’s great to know that I have a safe, fun, encouraging place to do my school work. It is also nice that I don’t have to worry about being bombarded with a bunch of people so I can get in and out. Especially since I have a very busy schedule. I am very blessed to be able to be a part of the TRIO family and look forward to the future.

 Rebekah KoenRebekah Koen

So get this, it was my first year of college and I had to take Math 131, how embarrassing right? Even worse than that, I was two weeks into the semester and I had absolutely no idea what was going on in that class…I had thought that it would at least be a refresher of what I had in High School. Boy was I way off the mark for that one… I didn’t know anyone in the class that I could go to for help and I was still too shy to talk to my professor about it. I needed to do something before I became the first person to fail out of Algebra 131.

Luckily for me, I had just joined TRIO Student Support Services, a program on campus for first nontraditional students, disability services, and first-generation college students. In one of the first meetings, they asked me if I was having any trouble in any of my classes and I immediately told them about the issues I was having in Algebra. The good news was that TRIO SSS also offers free tutoring for its members and I was signed up for it immediately.

I caught up with my classmates and did well enough to exempt my final exam. The next time I had to sign up for a math class, I wasn’t nearly as worried because I knew that I had the resources around me to succeed. I never forgot what they told me when I first came to TRIO SSS for assistance, “It’s better to ask for help and find out you don’t need it than to be proud to ask for it at all.”

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