In Maine, more than 7,400 students are served by the TRIO programs.
Washington, D.C. — At a U.S. Senate Education Committee hearing titled, “COVID-19: Going Back to College Safely,” U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Committee, questioned college presidents and a public health expert about their work to help students, faculty, and staff safely return to campus this fall.
During the hearing, Senator Collins highlighted the importance of TRIO programs in Maine and throughout the country.
“In Maine, more than 7,400 students are served by the TRIO programs. If colleges do not reopen this fall, we could see an increase in the number of people who have some college experience, but no degree to show for their hard work and are left with student debt,” said Senator Collins, the co-chair of the Congressional TRIO Caucus. “What do you think of expanding programs like TRIO to make sure that the support is there to encourage students to come back to school and to complete their degree or earn their credential if they’re attending a community college?”
“The TRIO program is a marvelous program, and I am fully in support of bringing our lowest income students and our first-gen students back to campus… it should be a national priority,” said Dr. Paxson, President of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. “These students, if they don’t come back, if they defer, if they delay, they may never come back and they may not get their degrees…We need to keep a close eye on persistence in education and degree completion especially during this time.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Collins has continued to work to ensure that students and institutions of higher education (IHEs) have the support and resources they need.
Last month, Senator Collins announced nearly $3 million in additional funding for Maine colleges and universities, adding to the more than $41 million Maine IHEs were awarded in April, both through the CARES Act. Additionally, Senator Collins led a bipartisan group of 40 Senators in pressing congressional leadership to include significant funding for the federal TRIO Programs in any upcoming coronavirus relief package.
Last year, Senators Collins and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced legislation that would reauthorize the federal TRIO Programs through 2025 and make key reforms to make it easier to enroll students in the TRIO programs. One of the provisions in Senator Collins’ bill would permanently prevent the situation the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) faced in 2017 when the Department of Education threatened to deny its application for Upward Bound due to a minor formatting issue. Senator Collins successfully urged the Department of Education to reverse its decision, protecting funding for UMPI.