For millions of students from low-income families, seven federally funded programs called TRIO make a world of difference.
Students enrolled in these programs come from households that earn less than $38,000 a year. Additionally, many of these students’ parents never earned a college degree. Unlike financial aid programs which help students transcend financial obstacles, TRIO programs provide valuable supportive services, in addition to financial assistance, to help students become the first in their families to graduate from college.
“TRIO programs are extremely valuable,” said Jeannette Cruz, Student Access and Success director and TRIO Lead. “They help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.”
The federally funded programs provide academic tutoring, personal counseling, mentoring and financial guidance to promote high school graduation, college access, retention and graduation. All together TRIO programs serve nearly 1,200 Panthers annually.
“For the first time in my life, I found a community where I felt like I truly belonged,” said Destiny Taylor. The senior majoring in psychology enrolled in Student Support Services beginning her freshmen year.
Taylor credits the program with playing a significant role throughout her entire undergrad journey at FIU. “TRIO gave me the skills and confidence that I need to succeed.”
On Saturday, Feb. 27, FIU students and TRIO program graduates will join peers from across the nation to celebrate the 2021 National TRIO Day.
Enacted by a congressional resolution in 1986, National TRIO Day is a call to citizens to come together to promote educational access and success in communities where TRIO Programs continue to create change.
“TRIO Day celebrates the lives that have been transformed by college access and success,” said Cruz. “It is an opportunity to focus attention on the need for increased investment in first-generation, low-income students.”
To commemorate the occasion, students from FIU’s TRIO Upward Bound program will participate in a Zoom art workshop during which they will paint a graduation cap and diploma to serve as a motivation piece. Additionally, a select number of FIU students will attend the Florida TRIO Leadership Institute.
At FIU, TRIO programs are offered through Student Access and Success and include Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services and the Ronald McNair Program. These programs support students’ need to access and navigate the collegiate experience.
Additionally, the Upward Bound Math-Science program, which is overseen by the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, serves to provide high schoolers with the competitive edge necessary not just to enroll but to excel in rigorous STEM programs in college.
Since TRIO was launched at FIU in 1992, approximately 3,000 students have graduated thanks to the initiative.