On May 9, 2010, COE Board-Elect Chair Kyle Ethelbah, Director of TRIO Programs at the University of Utah, testified before the House Subcommittee on Higher and Education and Workforce Development in a hearing entitled "The Cost of Non-Completion: Improving Student Outcomes in Higher Education." The witness panel also included Susan Dynarski, a professor from the University of Michigan; David Rudd, President of the University of Memphis; and Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College.
In his testimony, Mr. Ethelbah shared his own experience as both an Upward Bound and SSS student and the transformative power of education in his own life. Born and raised on the Fort Apache Indian reservation in Central Eastern Arizona, he recounted the struggles he faced on his journey towards college completion and how TRIO programs gave him the helping hand he needed to succeed. A full copy of Mr. Ethelbah's testimony is available here (.pdf). Mr. Ethelbah also addressed barriers to completion for low-income and first-generation college students and the difference TRIO programs are making in increasing completion rates for these students. During the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis of California asked Mr. Ethelbah to elaborate on the impact TRIO programs have on intergenerational mobility. He replied that TRIO participants, and college graduates, are able to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty in one generation. Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania asked about the challenges of filling out the FAFSA for low-income, first-generation student and what FAFSA simplification would mean for these students Mr. Ethelbah replied that while the FAFSA has gotten easier to maneuver, FAFSA verification has become burdensome and remains a major barrier that prevents some students from getting the educational aid that they need. During the hearing, several other Members of the Subcommittee, positively referenced their own experience meeting TRIO students in their Districts.
A full version of the hearing is available here.