U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis, Hinojosa, Moore and 100+ Members of Congress urge President Obama to expand access to federal student services for DACA students

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Washington, June 21, 2016 | comments

Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016:  Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), along with 110 other members of Congress sent a letter to the Obama Administration urging them to expand access to Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) for students who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Nationwide, there are over 728,000 DACA residents. 

Students who participate in TRIO are from low-income families and the first in their families to attend college.  Beginning in middle school and continuing through college, the programs provide critical student support services through mentoring, academic and financial counseling, and tutoring. 

In 2010, the U.S. Dept. of Education finalized a rule that only U.S. citizens can participate in TRIO even though, in several states, DACA and other undocumented students are eligible for in-state tuition.  The regulation is not required by law, meaning the U.S. Dept. of Education has the authority to change it and expand access to TRIO.    

“In Colorado, and in several other states, we fought hard and successfully for DREAMers, kids who were brought here at a young age and grew up here, to attend college at in-state tuition rates.  Now we need to empower them to succeed in college.  Programs like TRIO give kids from diverse backgrounds the tools they need to not only attend college, but also graduate with a degree,” Rep. Polis said.  “The current ban on DREAMers is above and beyond the requirements Congress set out in law and is holding students back. It's time to fix it."

“While Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has helped more than 700,000 young people gain access to education and workforce opportunities, we must ensure that DACA-eligible students also have access to federal TRIO Programs.  As chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, I believe that every student deserves equal access to educational opportunities. College readiness programs like TRIO assist low-income and first generation college students with the academic support services they need to succeed in school.  With this in mind, I urge the Administration to amend the TRIO regulations to allow DACA-eligible students to participate in these federal programs in order to give them greater opportunities to acquire the postsecondary education and skills they need to contribute to our nation’s workforce and economy,” said Rep. Hinojosa.

"Too many undocumented students in our country face a host of insurmountable obstacles in their pursuit of quality higher education. As a strident supporter of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it is imperative that we grant eligible students access to the federal TRIO Programs that will help them further their education and succeed in the 21st century economy. As Americans, we simply cannot turn our backs to our country’s most vulnerable students. I urge the Obama administration to give these young people the right to participate in these vital programs,” said Rep. Moore.

TRIO serves nearly 800,000 students every year through its eight programs: Educational Opportunity Centers, Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement, Student Support Services, Talent Search, Training Program for Federal TRIO Programs Staff, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science, Veterans Upward Bound.  

The letter sent to President Obama can be found here.

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