Washington – Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and a group of their colleagues sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging full disbursment of increased TRIO funds to low-income, first generation college students.
This increase, which amounted to $60 million, could be distributed among the 3,100 local TRIO programs that currently assist more than 800,000 students nationwide.
“Congress recognizes the vital role that TRIO plays in helping students earn college degrees. That is why we provided an increase of $60 million, or six percent, for these vital initiatives,” the Senators told DeVos. “We are eager to see this additional funding go to TRIO grantees around the country so they can increase the number of students who benefit from their services.”
Instead, Secretary DeVos announced she would be distributing less than half of the additional funding to current TRIO grant recipients. The rest of the funding would be allocated through an intensive application process open to only a fraction of current grant recipients.
“We are very concerned to hear that the Department intends to force TRIO grantees to go through another burdensome, bureaucratic application process to access the additional funds provided by Congress,” the Senators wrote. “Many of these grantees went through the competitive application process as recently as the previous fiscal year.”
TRIO grant recipients go through a highly competitive application process every five years in order to receive funding. Requiring these already thoroughly vetted recipients to jump through more bureaucratic hoops in order to receive additional funding is a waste of time, energy, and resources, the Senators said.
“We urge you to respect Congressional intent and provide a substantial funding increase to all current TRIO grantees, without unnecessary bureaucratic strings attached” the Senators wrote. “TRIO grantees should be focusing on supporting students and helping them excel, not vying to access the funding Congress wants them to have.”
In addition to Feinstein and Tester, the letter was also signed by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
The Senators’ letter to Secretary DeVos is available HERE.