President Obama has challenged the US to lead the world in college graduates by 2020. A non-profit group that handles federal education programs says to make that possible thousands of low, income first-generation and disabled students will have to seek higher learning.

Kimberly Jones, Director of Congressional Affairs for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), says their program TRIO does just that, but has been level funded in the President’s proposed budget for 2011. She equates this to a funding cut because it costs more to do business every year. This means there aren’t as many slots available to applicants who qualify.

At its peak the program served roughly 870,000 students nationally in 2006, compared to the most recent figures of 830,000 students; of these 14,000 are from Wisconsin.

TRIO provides financial assistance, but also focuses on tutoring and advising for students.

Kimberly Jones (:17)

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Jones applauds the Obama administration for making “great strides in Pell grant program,” which benefits their students, however she is encouraging Wisconsinites to ask their Congressional representatives to boost funding for TRIO. One of whom is a former participant in the program, US House member Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee).

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