The U.S. Department of Education administers several TRIO programs,  which are
entering their 50-year anniversary, and have their roots in the 1960s “War on Poverty."  DePaul has two of these programs:

  • Student Support Services (SSS)
  • McNair Scholars program

The programs, which are awarded through a competitive grant process, are administered by DePaul's Center for Access and Attainment in the Division of Enrollment Management and Marketing.  Focused on students from low-income and first-generation college families, they are an important expression of DePaul’s mission-based commitment to educational opportunity.

DePaul’s TRIO programs have consistently exceeded annual program objectives and have been successful through multiple grant competitions. They have served over 2,000 low-income and first-generation students over the 17 years they have been in existence at DePaul.

Both programs have helped to reframe perspectives on the relationship between college access and attainment at the University.  Though TRIO participants are low-income and first-generation, though they tend to come from schools that do not have a strong college-going culture, and though their academic profile on admission is weaker than the DePaul average, their attainment at the University, as measured by graduation rates and enrollment in graduate school, exceeds University averages.

  • Established in 1997 the SSS program serves 200 eligible students a year with demonstrated academic need for academic support. Over half of the participants are from Chicago Public Schools with a majority of them coming from the neighborhood schools. The primary goal of SSS is to improve the graduation rates for low-income and first-generation students. The program provides advising, career planning, tutoring, financial literacy and a variety of other support services to participants and has consistently posted impressive outcomes.  In 2012-2013 the first year persistence rate was 96%, the percentage of participants in good academic standing was 97%, and the six-year graduation rate was 85%, all well above institutional averages. The Principal Investigator for the program is Anita Rosso.
  • The McNair Scholars program was established at DePaul in 1999 with the goal of preparing eligible participants for doctoral study and faculty careers. McNair scholars are predominantly from low-income and first-generation families although one-third may be from groups underrepresented in higher education. Serving 30 junior and senior-level students a year, the McNair program provides an intensive academic and research curriculum including individual faculty mentoring and the opportunity, with additional funds from DePaul, to study or do research abroad. Over 70% of McNair students at DePaul study abroad, over 90% have presented at conferences outside of DePaul, and over 80% have enrolled in graduate school. The McNair program at DePaul is one of only 154 McNair programs nationwide.  The Principal Investigator is Dr. Luciano Berardi.
  • For 2014-2015, the SSS program at DePaul is supported by a $270,348 TRIO grant while the McNair Scholars program is supported by a $220,000 TRIO grant.  DePaul provides supplemental funding for both programs ($54,000 for SSS and $115,000 for McNair, the latter including funding for tuition and study abroad scholarships from the Division of Enrollment Management and Marketing.)

TRIO Programs Serve Students Nationwide

There are eight federal TRIO programs providing a pathway for low-income and first-generation students from middle school through college.  TRIO programs are carefully targeted to those with the greatest need and place an emphasis on direct services to participants.  In addition to the income and family education eligibility criteria, TRIO programs also provide special services to and students with disabilities.

TRIO programs are funded through a competitive grant application process, must provide detailed annual reports to the U.S. Department of Education and must re-apply for funding on a five-year basis. Student eligibility criteria are stringent and must be documented. Low-income status is defined as 150% of poverty level based on family net taxable income while first-generation status is defined as neither parent having a bachelor’s degree.  In order to be served by a TRIO program, a student first must be eligible to receive services and then be accepted into a funded program managed by the institution where the student is registered.

Read more about TRIO at DePaul.