On average, about 400 seniors are involved in TRiO per year through Boise State’s Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search programs. Approximately 45 percent of those students attend Boise State. Those numbers are subject to change when the budget cuts due to sequestration take place this September.
The Congressional Research Service defines sequestration as: “In general, sequestration entails the permanent cancellation of budgetary resources by a uniform percentage. Moreover, this uniform percentage reduction is applied to all programs, projects and activities within a budget account.”
TRiO is one of those “activities” that will suffer due to budget cuts. TRiO a set of federally funded programs whose aim is to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds and hopefully help them attain a college degree.
TRiO goes to high schools and finds disadvantaged students who aim to graduate from college and offers support in forms of tutors, advisors, financial aid assistance, and more.
TRiO is a combination of eight programs dating back to 1964, when Upward Bound was first created. Then, in 1965, the Higher Education Act created Talent Search. Lastly, Special Services for Disadvantaged Students (later known as Student Support Services), was created in 1968. Together the three programs form TRiO and have since branched out into more programs.
There are 23 TRiO Programs funded in Idaho,normally bringing in roughly $7 million in federal funding, and affecting nearly 6,700 students. Nationally, the program may lose up to $42 million and a potential loss of 40,000+ students for program year 2013-2014. Boise State’s pre-college programs alone will lose approximately $92,000 due to sequestration.
Idaho’s Congressional Senator Mike Simpson feels passionately about working to preserve TRiO and programs similar to it.
“I believe that any student who wants it, should have an opportunity to go to college,” Simpson said in a press release. “Money should never be an obstacle to pursuing higher education.”
Simpson shows his support through his membership in the TRiO caucus.
“Many low-income students face a multitude of obstacles when they consider furthering their education,” Simpson said. “If these students are the first in their families to pursue a college education, these challenges can seem insurmountable. The TRiO programs have a profound impact on the lives of these students.”
Antonina Robles, a graduate from Boise State who participated in TRiO, explained how TRiO can help students. “This program prepares students go to college, fill out applications, and weed through the financial aid process,” Robles said.
Robles along with Greg Martinez, Director of the McNair Scholars and Student Success program (college oriented),had the opportunity to go to Washington DC to advocate for TRiO in Congress.
“It was a great chance to talk to Congress representatives about my story,” Robles said. “I was basically able to say that TRiO works. I’m a product of TRiO. You make an investment now, but it pays off. I give back to the community because I have that education.”
Sue Huizinga, the Director for the TRiO Upward Bound program and the Educational Talent Search program (pre-college oriented) at Boise State, expressed why she feels TRiO is a viable institution.
“It’s important in Idaho because less than thirty percent of citizens have a bachelor’s degree and one in ten Idaho students finish college,” Huizinga said. “So especially in our state where numbers are so low, it is important and valuable program because it helps students do that.”
Martinez highlighted why he believed TRiO is important and unique.
“The money we get from the federal government allows us to really get to know our students well,” Martinez said. “We take the time to work through whatever issues student may have, and that is where the strength is, that’s what the money does for us.”
Huizinga explained that these cuts will hinder a lot of the opportunities and field trips previously offered through TRiO.
“We will have to reallocate funds, cut back on field trips, just alter our expenditures,” Huizinga said.
Martinez expressed his disappointment regarding the cuts due to Sequester.
“I’m not too happy that it happened. I didn’t have a lot of faith that it wouldn’t happen, watching the way our government doesn’t function very well right now,” Martinez said.
Mark Heilman, the Director for Veteran’s Upward Bound, shared his concern regarding the loss of funding.
“We have been discussing options for the programs, and adjustments we can make so we can provide all the services we can provide,” Heilman said. “For us, it will not be as much about affecting Veterans, we will try to make adjustments in things around the program, like buying supplies.”
Huizinga fears students will feel the changes because of these cuts.
“My guess is that students who have been with us for a couple of years will see a difference,” Huizinga said. “They will see less field trips and service events.”
Many TRiO employees, from all of their various programs, belong to the Council for Opportunity for Education.
This organization has been working hard to help programs such as TRiO stay alive. To help support TRiO, visit the COE website or contact a Congress representative.