April 2017, News & Features

President’s budget might hurt TRIO program

Some of the budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration could hurt programs that are important to student success at Saint Augustine’s University and other HBCUs.

Trump’s proposed budget calls for a $9 billion, or 13.5 percent, cut for the U.S. Department of Education, according to an article by Anya Kamenetz posted on National Public Radio’s website on March 16, 2017. The cuts would eliminate or reduce 20 educational programs, according to an article by Tal Kopan posted on CNN Politics on March 16, 2017.

The administration’s proposed budget would cut funds for several programs that serve SAU students, including Work-Study, TRIO, GEAR UP, and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOGs).

TRIO, a program that supports the educational needs of students, particularly low-income students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, is especially important here at SAU. TRIO encompasses three elements: Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Student Support Services. Upward Bound supports students in the preparation to attend college; Talent Search serves students in grade six to 12, helping them get through grade school and transition to college; and Student Support Service has an Academic Achievers Program that provides support for students, particularly first-year students, making the transition from high school to college.

TRIO appears to be helping SAU students. For example, many Falcons who are a part of the TRIO program were among students honored in the university’s 2017 Honors Convocation held on Friday, April 7, 2017.

If federal funding were cut and the TRIO program was either eliminated or cut back, it might affect successful students such as Noel McNeil, Benjamin Raymond, and Devante Lane.

“The TRIO program has helped me make a lot of new friends, and become a better student,” said McNeil, a freshman psychology major who is an Academic Achievers participant. “My grades have also improved with the support of the program.”

McNeil made the Provost’s List in 2016 and Dean’s List in the Fall of 2016 and is also an SAU Student Ambassador. She said the cuts would hurt institutions like SAU. She had not heard abut the proposed cuts but expressed concerns when informed about them. “I think it’s impractical,” she said.

Raymond, a freshman criminal justice major who is an SAU Student Ambassador, Active Minds member, and a member of the Christian Fellowship organization, also was unhappy to hear about the proposed budget reductions. “TRIO has also helped me when it comes to meeting my financial needs such as my tuition,” he said.

Devante Lane, a sophomore computer information systems major, made the President’s List, and Dean’s List. Lane is an Academic Achievers participant and credits that program with helping him succeed at SAU. “The program has helped me academically to be successful,” said Lane. “I feel that, if the TRIO program was cut, it will affect first-generation college students. The cuts would especially affect students who attend SAU. Students who are in the program here at SAU need the special services for their academic assistance.”

SAU is not the only institution where students are concerned. For instance an article by Eugene Daniel posted on the Central Illinois Proud website on March 24, 2017, discussed the impact the cuts would have on Illinois Central College: The article noted that TRIO serves more than 250 students at Illinois Central College and discusses success stories of students who are a part of the TRIO program and how their academic careers have excelled.

An article by Aria Bendix published in The Atlantic notes that the proposed budget “is merely a blueprint” and Congress can change it. Congress is not expected to draft its own budget proposal until May, the article explains.

By Jazmin Powell