Cantwell, Colleagues Demand Secretary DeVos Stop Withholding Funds from TRIO

65 TRIO Programs in Washington state serve nearly 15,500 students every year

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) this week joined 15 of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, demanding that she distribute the full amount of funding appropriated by Congress to TRIO Programs, which provide low-income, first-generation college students with the support, resources, and guidance they need to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn a degree.

“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 in the most recent omnibus appropriations agreement,” the senators wrote to Secretary 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.”

Washington state currently has 65 TRIO Programs that serve nearly 15,500 students each year. In March, Congress passed a budget bill that included a six percent increase in funding for TRIO Programs throughout the country. The increased funding, which amounted to $60 million, could be distributed among the 3,100 local TRIO Programs nationwide that currently assist more than 800,000 students.

However, Secretary DeVos announced she would distribute less than half of the additional funding to current TRIO grant recipients. The rest of the funding would be allocated instead through an intensive application process open to only a fraction of current grant recipients.

“We urge you to respect this Congressional intent and provide a substantial funding increase to all current TRIO grantees, without unnecessary bureaucratic strings attached,” the senators continued. “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 Cantwell, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Angus King (I-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

The full text of the letter is available HERE .