History of the Federal TRiO Programs

“TRIO” is not an acronym. Rather, it refers to the three original programs that were funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, and Special Services (later named Student Support Services).

They 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.

More than 800,000 low-income, first-generation students and disabled students— from sixth grade to college graduation— are served nationwide by over 3,100 programs on college campuses throughout the nation.

TRIO providers offer:

  • Academic tutoring
  • Personal counseling
  • Mentoring
  • Personal financial planning
  • and other resources needed for access to and success in secondary and post-secondary education.

Wallace Community College has the following three TRIO programs: Student Support ServicesEducational Talent Search, and Upward Bound.

  • Upward Bound was the first program, emerging out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, in response to President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”
  • Educational Talent Search was created as part of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965.
  • Student Support Services was authorized at the first reauthorization of the HEA in 1968.