For thousands of students from low-income families who strive to be the first in their family to attend and graduate from college, federally-funded programs called TRiO are making a world of difference in Maine.
There are four TRiO programs in Aroostook County: Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and Educational Opportunity Center. These programs have been providing valuable supportive services to students from low-income and working families to help them successfully enter and graduate from college for over 30 years. The programs currently serve more than 1,100 Aroostook County students from grade six through the university level.
TRiO services include: assistance in choosing and applying to a college; tutoring; personal and financial counseling; career counseling; workplace and college visits; special instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, and study skills; assistance in applying for financial aid; and academic support in high school or assistance to re-enter high school.
Dr. Arnold Mitchem, president of the Council for Opportunity in Education, an education association which represents TRiO students, college graduates, and professionals nationwide states, “these programs work because they are run at the local level, student-centered, performance-based, and non-bureaucratic.”
TRiO programs currently are facing a 5.1 percent across-the-board cut known as sequestration. The result would translate into a reduction of $374,567 and more than 340 students losing services in the state of Maine, with $85,304 and approximately 60 students losing services in Aroostook County.
According to Lena Michaud, UMFK’s Student Support Services director, “We want more people in Aroostook County to know about the services of the TRiO programs. We also want people to know that this program works and should be expanded to serve more students from low-income families across Maine; not reduced.
Students repeatedly attribute their success to the academic support and guidance they receive from TRiO programs. A recent UMFK graduate claimed “they have been 100 percent supportive since day one, not only financially, but academically and mentally. You really can’t use any excuses when you have TRiO support because they provide you with all the resources and tools you need to smoothly and successfully get through college.”
County Upward Bound students state: “It helped me decide what I wanted to do with my life and how I needed to achieve my goals. I made lifelong friends and created memories with those friends that I will remember forever. The classes were interesting, and the teachers were fun. I had opportunities that I never had in my high school. It was one of the best times of my life.” Phoebe Axe – Class of 2007
“I’m glad I joined Upward Bound. There are loving friends that are like family, and an education that seriously helps. It prepares you for college. You’ll never want to leave.” Dillon Meserve – Class of 2014
For more information about TRiO programs in Aroostook County or to learn what you can do to assure that County students don’t lose access to these services, contact Shawn Graham, president of the Maine Educational Opportunity Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at: http://www.meeoa.org/