On May 23, 2017, President Trump called for the elimination of two of the Federal TRIO Programs — Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) and McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement. In the FY 2018 budget request to Congress, the Administration argued that "[w]hile the goals of EOC programs are important... EOC offers 'low touch' services that can be provided through other programs..." In an off-camera briefing at the White House, the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney further expounded upon the reasoning behind this proposal.
"We talk about how to prioritize spending and how to look at programs that work and don't work... The other one that I talk about — I'll pull out some notes on this — is that the TRIO Program. It's an education program — and I can never remember what TRIO stands for — T-R-I-O. It's actually got five parts to it, as only a federal program can. It's a TRIO Program with five parts. There’s three parts that actually work... [t]he other two programs — the McNair grad school program and the Educational Opportunity Centers — don't. In fact, the McNair program is the McNair post-baccalaureate something, something. It's designed to take folks from — after they graduate from college to get a post-bachelor's degree. The last time the Department of Education looked at this, it was 6 percent effective — 6 percent. I can't do that anymore. We can't do that anymore. We cannot defend programs like that — 6 percent just doesn't cut it."
A full transcript of the briefing is available here. Days later, at a hearing before the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressed that the mission of McNair fell outside of the scope of TRIO. A clip of that exchange is available here.
Although many leaders within Congress considers this budget to be "dead on arrival" the proposal to eliminate EOC and McNair are very real, very credible threats that our entire community must take seriously.
In response, COE is already working with our allies in Washington to defeat this inexcusable attack on our nation's low-income, first-generation students in search of higher education. However, in order to ensure our success, engagement from all corners of the TRIO community is necessary. To enlist everyone's support, COE's Public Policy team has compiled the following McNair Post-Baccalaureate Advocacy Packet (.doc) and EOC Advocacy Packet (.pdf) to assist the communities in this ongoing fight.
Local engagement with Members of Congress will be a critical component of our strategy. Legislators will only fight for what they know about and see as a priority for constituents. Therefore, getting your House Representatives and Senators to visit your programs, meet with participants and alumni, and listening to your local supporters will be a key factor in our long-term success.
The Public Policy team at COE is available to provide assistance with your local efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact Kimberly Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Selene Ceja (email@example.com), by e-mail or phone at (202) 347-7430, at any time.
We are in for a long fight. But, together, we are confident that we will emerge victorious to preserve the McNair and EOC programs.