What is TRIO Upward Bound?

TRIO Upward Bound

The Upward Bound Program (UB) is a federally funded program in a cluster of programs referred to as TRIO. The TRIO programs began after the enactment of the Higher Education Act of 1965. UB provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their high school performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. UB serves high school students from low-income families and who are first generation college students (their parents did not graduate from college with a bachelors degree). The goal of UB is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of post-secondary education.

Grand Valley State University has received continual funding for the TRIO UB Program since 1978. Once accepted into the GVSU UB program, students participate until their high school graduation. All services are provided at no cost to students.

TRIO Upward Bound Program Highlights

The GVSU TRIO Upward Bound program is funded to serve 100 students at Union High School and Innovation Central High School. Both schools are part of the Grand Rapids Public School District in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The program provides:

  • A supportive learning environment with academic instruction, tutoring and advising
  • Individualized support and encouragement for all students
  • A challenging curriculum in a small, supportive setting designed to evaluate and strengthen student reading, study skills, and problem solving skills
  • An intensive five week Summer Residential Program with academic, cultural and social activities
  • College campus tours
  • Cultural field trips in and out-of-state
  • Assistance in the search for financial aid and scholarships 
  • Assistance with college application and admissions process


TRIO Upward Bound Student during the summer programming

What are the TRIO programs?

Our nation has asserted a commitment to providing educational opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance.

In support of this commitment, Congress established a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America's economic and social life. These Programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRIO Programs (initially just three programs). While student financial aid programs help students overcome financial barriers to higher education, TRIO programs help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.

As mandated by Congress, two-thirds of the students served must be low-income, first generation college students. The remaining one-third must be either low-income, first-generation college students, or students who have a high risk for academic failure. More than 2,700 TRIO programs currently serve nearly 866,000 students. Many programs serve students in grades six through 12. Thirty-seven percent of TRIO students are Whites, 35% are African-Americans, 19% are Hispanics, 4% are Native Americans, 4% are Asian-Americans, and 1% are listed as "Other," including multiracial students. Twenty-two thousand students with disabilities and more than 25,000 U.S. veterans are currently enrolled in the TRIO programs as well. For more race and ethnicity data for each TRIO program (Upward Bound, UB Math/Science, SSS, Talent Search, EOC, and McNair), see Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Federal TRIO Programs, a News You Can Use fact sheet from the National TRIO Clearinghouse.

How it Works

Over 1,000 colleges, universities, community colleges and agencies now offer TRIO programs in America. TRIO funds are distributed to institutions through competitive grants.

TRIO Upward Bound Students

Evidence of Achievement

Students in the Upward Bound program are four times more likely to earn an undergraduate degree than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in TRIO; nearly 20 percent of all Black and Hispanic freshmen who entered college in 1981 received assistance through the TRIO Talent Search or EOC programs; students in the TRIO Student Support Services program are more than twice as likely to remain in college than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in the program.

Page last modified November 20, 2017