June 12, 2019
On June 12, 2019, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), along with co-sponsors Jon Tester (D-MT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), introduced the Educational Opportunity and Success Act. This legislation, which would reauthorize TRIO in the Higher Education Act, takes many important steps to simplify and streamline the TRIO grant application process as it prohibits the Department of Education from disqualifying grant applicants for non-substantive formatting matters and also provides applicants with an opportunity to amend budget errors (e.g., rounding errors, transposed numbers, etc.) prior to consideration. The legislation also eliminates the “funding band” in the grant award process.
With respect to student eligibility, the Educational Opportunity and Success Act promotes greater alignment between TRIO and other student aid programs to ensure that the neediest students are more readily able to access TRIO services. To ease administrative burdens at the undergraduate level, the legislation allows for a student’s Pell Grant eligibility to serve as a qualifying factor in determining low-income status. The bill also allows programs to rely on the “adjustable gross income” from the “prior prior year” as a means of determining low-income status, thus bringing the TRIO programs in step with information collected by the FAFSA. Finally, under this bill, Talent Search programs and Educational Opportunity Centers would be able to serve any student enrolled at a school where at least 40% of students receive free or reduced lunch. Taken together, these measures will reduce administrative burdens for programs and ensure greater access for low-income students who aim to become the first members of their families to earn college degrees.
COE strongly supports this legislation and salutes Senators Collins, Tester, Capito, and Baldwin for their leadership on these issues. We strongly encourage all TRIO supporters — particularly those who reside in Maine, Montana, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — to express their thanks to these Senators as well.
Click here to watch Senator Collins’ remarks on the Senate floor or see the video below.