Bush's budget proposal poses threat to local TRIO and Gear Up programs

March 03, 2005

The Kaselehlie Press

A budget proposal for FY 2006 by President George W. Bush of the United States of America was submitted to Congress on February 7, 2005. In his budget proposal several educational programs are to be eliminated, including the Talent Search Program (TSP) and Upward Bound (UB) which are TRIO educational programs. These programs benefit many students in the FSM and throughout the region but may no longer be available if the proposed budget passes the US Congress.

TSP and UB educational programs that have sent thousands of low-income kids to college are on the chopping block as a result of President George Bush's recently released budget.

"For nearly four decades, the federally-funded Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound programs have targeted under-achieving, but motivated high school students get to college by helping them select classes, visit university campuses and fill out financial aid applications," stated The Standard-Times.

Because the eligibility of participating in those programs are based on underprivileged and low-income using US standards, the FSM is eligible for the programs and therefore implement the programs for FSM students, many of whom have already graduated from college. Many students in the FSM are benefiting from one of the two programs and Pohnpei alone has up to one thousand students participating in the TSP and UB programs. These programs have managed to send about 98% of their students to college.

If the proposed budget passes, the ramifications could reach the FSM. The KP has learned that similar situations occur in the past and the proposal did not make it. Such experience has given the programs sparks of hope that the budget proposal will be turned down by congress.

The TRIO exists since 1965 and the services it provided for students are remarkable. According to a KUAM News release, UOG President Dr. Harold Allen stated, "I think the programs are extremely effective and I'm really concerned because the availability of the funds that come through the TRIO program, Gear-Up, Upward Bound and Talent Search sometimes make the difference in terms of students from Micronesia and our students being able to go to college.

"Many countries who have implemented the TRIO and Gear Up programs are protesting against the President's proposed budget. The KP has learned that there is lobbying going on in congress and the TRIO and Gear-Up putting forth an effort to have the congress strike down the proposed budget.

Many individuals who have experience the supports and services of TRIO and Gear-Up are speaking up against the proposed budget. According to Donna Healy of the Gazette Staff, Dalin Kelley, a 20-year-old who spent 15 months in Iraq with the 1st Armored Division said, "It kind of ticked me off. The people who decide that don't really see how it would affect us. If this wasn't here, I'd probably be failing out now." In the KUAM News, Marielle Terbeo feels she might have not been able to get into college without the UB program.

The reasons for cutting such programs is not entirely clear to the KP. Although it is still a proposal, the question is "What will happen if congress decided to pass give its consent? And, what will the funding be used for? The President's no Child left behind plan? To support the war in Iraq? These are some of the questions the KP gathered from participants of TSP and UB. The Director of UD, Churchill Edward said a group is dispatching for the states at the end of this month and the beginning of next month. They will also be looking in on the direction of the president's budget proposal and the KP will print updates after the group has returned from the states.