Student Support Services
TRIO is our nation’s commitment to the dream of education for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background, or economic circumstances. The Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) houses the federally funded TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) and Student Support Services – STEM programs. Both SSS and SSS-STEM provide services including academic advising, assistance with accessing campus services including financial aid, mentoring, tutoring, opportunities to participate in social/cultural activities, career/graduate school advising, and much more. Students interested in becoming an SSS or SSS-STEM participant must complete an application. For more information about the application process, please refer to our page for prospective students found here.
History of the TRiO Programs
The TRIO programs have a long history of supporting students, from middle school to college, as they achieve success and continue into higher education. The first re-authorization of the Higher Education Act in 1968 created the TRIO label that continues to be used today. TRIO initially referred to the three programs; Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, and Student Support Services that existed within this re-authorization of the Higher Education Act designed to assist low-income, first generation college students, and students with disabilities to begin and complete a post-secondary education.
Upward Bound was created by the Educational Opportunity Act of 1964, the original War on Poverty statute. Upward Bound helps eligible people and veterans prepare for higher education. Talent Search was created by the original Higher Education Act of 1965. Talent Search programs serve young people in grades six through twelve by helping them to better understand their educational opportunities and options. When the 1968 re-authorization of the Higher Education Act created Student Support Services and transferred Upward Bound out of the Office of Economic Opportunity into the Higher Education Act, TRIO was born. Student Support Services help students who are eligible to stay in college until they earn their baccalaureate degree.
Not unlike the Big Ten, which is now 12, TRIO is really five programs under one umbrella. The second re-authorization of the Higher Education Act of 1972 created the Educational Opportunity Centers. Educational Opportunity Centers primarily serve displaced or underemployed workers by helping them to choose a college and a suitable financial aid program. Most recently, the fifth re-authorization of the TRiO programs in 1986 created the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. McNair programs are designed to encourage eligible students to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. It took 22 years, from 1964 to 1986, to construct the current array of TRIO programs. In addition to the Student Support Services Program, the University of Wisconsin also has the Ronald McNair Scholars program.
To learn more about federal TRIO programs, go to