Federal program for disadvantaged students extended at UIC

four students sitting around a table

The TRIO programs target and provide services for students from low-income families, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities.

The University of Illinois at Chicago was awarded a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education for its TRIO Student Support Services Program

TRIO is a set of federally funded outreach programs for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It helps motivate them to complete high school and enter a post-secondary educational institution and supports them through graduation with a bachelor’s degree.

Students from low-income families, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities — from sixth grade through college graduation — are served by more than 2,800 programs nationally.

“To know that students who are eligible to receive the services of the TRIO Student Support Services grant will have the opportunity to continue to receive support or to begin receiving support is extremely gratifying,” says UIC’s TRIO Programs director Lillye Hart, assistant to the vice chancellor for student affairs. The extension will begin when the current five-year funding cycle ends a year from now.

UIC will use the grant to provide academic tutoring, academic and personal advising, mentoring, financial guidance, and other services to 160 students each year to support academic development, retention and graduation.

“The TRIO Student Support Services Program provides a supportive and caring atmosphere where the program participants can thrive in a diverse and distinguished educational environment as they pursue higher education and build pathways to successful careers,” Hart said. “Moreover, the work of the TRIO Program is very much in line with the mission and goals of UIC.”

Last year, 17 TRIO program participants graduated UIC with bachelor’s degrees, Hart said, bringing the total to 85 since the beginning of the last cycle in 2011.

The TRIO programs, begun as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, were the first national college access and retention programs to address social and cultural barriers to education in America.

The Educational Opportunity Act of 1964 established a program known as Upward Bound. In 1965, the Higher Education Act created Talent Search. The third program, Special Services for Disadvantaged Students — later known as Student Support Services — launched in 1968. Currently, seven TRIO programs serve eligible students from middle school through college and graduate school.

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