About Trio



Upward Bound Students 2005Grand Valley State University TRiO Programs (Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, Educational Support Program and McNair) advocate, encourage, and provide educational opportunities, academic support and enrichment activities for students who are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education because of family educational background and/or income. The GVSU TRiO Programs contribute to the enrichment of society by ensuring its students have equal access, opportunity and resources in preparation for, entry to, and completion of a postsecondary education.


Congress has mandated who should be served by these programs; in McNair, two-thirds of our students are low-income and first generation college students and one-third are from traditionally underrepresented groups.  As such, 37% of all TRiO students are White, 35% are African-American, 19% are Hispanic, 4% are Native American, 4% are Asian American, and 1% are listed as “Other” (which includes multiracial students).

TRiO is actually not an acronym; in the 1960s, the term was coined to describe the three programs–Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Student Support Services–that came together under the Higher Education Act and Amendments.  Since then several more have been added, for a total of seven outreach programs. Here are the Department of Education's program descriptions:

  • Upward Bound and Veterans' Upward Bound: Provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance, with opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves: high school students from low-income families; high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree; and low-income, first-generation military veterans who are preparing to enter postsecondary education. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.
  • Student Support Services: The program provides opportunities for academic development, assists students with basic college requirements, and serves to motivate students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education. Student Support Services (SSS) projects also may provide grant aid to current SSS participants who are receiving Federal Pell Grants (#84.063). The goal of SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants and help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next.
  • Educational Opportunity Centers: The Educational Opportunity Centers program provides counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. An important objective of the program is to counsel participants on financial aid options and to assist in the application process. The goal of the EOC program is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in postsecondary education institutions.
  • Talent Search: This program identifies and assists individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The program provides academic, career, and financial counseling to its participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and continue on to the postsecondary institution of their choice. Talent Search also serves high school dropouts by encouraging them to reenter the education system and complete their education. The goal of Talent Search is to increase the number of youths from disadvantaged backgrounds who complete high school and enroll in postsecondary education institutions of their choice.
  • Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program: This program prepares participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated strong academic potential. Institutions work closely with participants as they complete their undergraduate requirements. Institutions encourage participants to enroll in graduate programs and then track their progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees. The goal is to increase the attainment of PhD degrees by students from underrepresented segments of society.

Upward Bound Students 2005


About 2,600 TRiO programs can be found in over 1,200 colleges and universities nationwide, serving nearly 900,000 thousand students.  For more information about TRiO, please check out the Council for Opportunity in Education or TRiO at the Department of Education.

Page last modified February 4, 2010