TRiO is a program funded by the federal government. USC gives grants to schools who qualify to have the program. It is essentially an Education Talent Search Program which USC launched back in fall of 1991.
Liliana Ochoa, a USC TRiO representative, said that the program is mostly offered to students who are low-income and/or first generation college students. In order for students to get into the program, they have to undergo an application process, have a social security number, be enrolled in the school, and have a grade point average of 2.5 and higher.
USC TRiO is essential because “everything [they] do is free, [they] provide academic advising for FAFSA and college applications,” said Ochoa. She feels that freshman and sophomore don’t find the program as beneficial as juniors and seniors do.
Erik Atilano, a senior in the Technology & Media magnet, has been a member of the program as early as freshman year. Atilano said he “took full advantage of the program since they have so much to offer and are always available in the college center.” He said that the program is good for anyone that plans to pursue a career after high school because of the field trips to the college campuses.
Edgar Valenzuela, a senior in the Business, Innovation & Leadership small school, is not a member of the TRiO program because he “wasn’t really informed or aware of the existence of the program; however if [he] would’ve been aware, [he] would’ve joined.”
Valenzuela believes that if he would’ve had access to the program, it would’ve given him a broader understanding of what to expect in college. He would’ve appreciated the experience of visiting different college campuses that would’ve garnered his attention.
Ochoa mentioned that there are many TRiO programs offered in low-income areas; however, not all of them are funded by USC.
USC TRiO offers their program in high schools such as Belmont, Jordan, Manual, West Adams, and Locke.
She feels that the program has made South East more college oriented.
Ochoa said, “to apply to the program as soon as possible because once students become juniors and seniors they want to join and it’s best to join early on.”