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Summary: TRIO is a set of federal programs (originally 3, hence “trio,” but more were added later) authorized in the 1960s under the Higher Education Act. GEAR UP (late 1990s) is another separate but similar program later added to the HEA.
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About "Three’s A Crowd: The Case For TRIO & GEAR UP Reform"
TRIO is a set of federal programs (originally 3, hence “trio,” but more were added later) authorized in the 1960s under the Higher Education Act. GEAR UP (late 1990s) is another separate but similar program later added to the HEA. These programs together spend around $1 billion per year to help disadvantaged students get ready for, enroll in, and finish college. Be aware that some of the programs do apply to students before they get to college, but they are still “higher education” policies, since they are defined as such by Congress, being put into the HEA and being designed to help these students get college degrees. The programs give grants to states and institutions to spend on things like mentoring, after school tutoring, special classes, summer activities, help filling out financial aid forms, etc. The problem is that none of the programs have any substantial proof that they are effective at actually getting disadvantaged kids through college. Fifty years later, there should be some evidence that they work, but disadvantaged kids are still not getting into nor graduating from college at very high rates.
Researchers Haskins & Rouse propose a 5-step reform plan that consolidates these into a single program with some of the funding dedicated to research and a requirement that any grants be given only to programs that have been studied and proven effective. At best, only effective programs would be funded and more disadvantaged students would get better results. At worst, no projects would be proven effective and the federal deficit would be reduced, since nothing would get funded. No one would be harmed, since the Status Quo isn’t helping anyone anyway.
Note: Different sources describe TRIO as four, six, or even more programs. Some of this depends on the date of the evidence (the number of programs changed over time). Some of it also depends on how they count the programs, since some of them have sub-programs that are sometimes counted separately.
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