|TRIO Ends Year on High Note
(December 20, 2014)
On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act into law. This bill, which was a hybrid omnibus and continuing resolution — known as a “CROmnibus” in the media — included two key provisions relating to TRIO. First, it instructed the U.S. Department of Education to release the final application for the Student Support Services program by December 18, 2014, and to make all grant awards (including grants earned through the review process) by August 10, 2015. (The Department of Education did, in fact, comply with this directive as the final grant application appeared in the Federal Register on December 18 with a reduction in Competitive Preference Points, a reversion back to the 4/6 year transfer/graduation objective and a deadline of February 2, 2015.)
Second, the legislation provided $839.7 million in TRIO funding, representing a $1.5 million increase. Although it may appear to be a small sum, this funding increase is quite significant upon consideration of the fact that the bill cut overall funding for the Department of Education by $166 million and several key programs of that support low-income communities — such as GEAR UP, SEOG, Head Start, and low-income heating assistance (LIHHEAP) — received level-funding. Further still, several other strongly supported programs, such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and even Pell Grants, received funding cuts.
Overall, this bill represents a triumph of TRIO advocacy and our community is to be commended. Looking ahead to next year, the Council is preparing engage in renewed advocacy surrounding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and, as always, TRIO appropriations.