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Collage of TRIO students at various events.


What is TRIO?

Going to college is a big step. We’ll help you finish what you start. We’ll also make sure you thrive along the way and discover life after Illinois State. TRIO is a nationwide program that offers you the best chance to enter and graduate from college. And while you’re in college, TRIO provides the resources and academic advising you need to succeed.

Be Part of Our Strong Community

Illinois State’s TRIO/SSS program recognizes the wealth that first-generation students bring to the campus community and walks with them as they use their social and cultural capital to achieve personal and academic success.

Some people have been part of TRIO since middle school. Others join us when they get here. We’re open to underrepresented students, including:

  • First-generation.

    This means neither of your parents graduated from a four-year school.

  • Financial status.

    We welcome those who have a demonstrated financial need according to federal guidelines.

  • Persons with a disability.

    Our programs and services are designed to help those with a documented disability.

We build the foundation that helps you thrive.

You don’t have to navigate college alone. We’ll be by your side from the start. Here’s what you can expect when you’re part of TRIO.

  • Personal and academic growth.

    We take a holistic approach that goes beyond grades. Success in TRIO means you’ll flourish academically and personally.

  • A community of supportive people.

    TRIO is made up of trained professionals who understand your hopes, fears, and challenges. We’re a bunch of advisors, coaches, counselors, peers, and friends who want nothing but the best for you.

  • Unique opportunities.

    Our partnerships and programs help you make connections that help you seize the future you want. From financial literacy to cultural enrichment, everything is designed with your success in mind.

  • A blueprint for the future.

    Your possibilities are endless. It’s exciting, but also a little overwhelming. We prepare you for life beyond Illinois State, like career planning and graduate school.

  • A space just for you.

    Our spot on campus is always open for you to hang out, study, relax, or whatever you need. It’s comfortable and stocked with snacks, because you can’t thrive on an empty stomach.

  • Tons of fun.

    We work hard and play hard, too. Whether we're studying or out in the community, we're always having a good time.

Connect With Us on Social Media

Stay up to date with what's happening in TRIO.

TRIO students attend a banquet.
TRIO students pose for a group photo.
Five TRIO students pose for a photo in formal attire.
TRIO students wearing matching shirts pose for a group photo outside.
TRIO students pose for a group photo in front of a Chicago Bulls display.
TRIO students pose for a group photo at a Chicago Bulls game.
TRIO students seated at a basketball game.
TRIO student poses next to her research poster at the Research Symposium.
TRIO students pose next to their research poster at the Research Symposium.
TRIO student takes a selfie in front of a statue.

The end result is huge.

At TRIO, we lead with your strengths and nurture your areas for growth. When you take advantage of our services, you can expect to see big changes in yourself.

  • Advocate for yourself.

    Start using your voice to build your identity and be your number one champion.

  • Break the cycle.

    Our crucial (and sometimes uncomfortable) conversations will help you stop the negative behaviors and habits that hold you back.

  • Destroy barriers.

    It’s not an easy journey, but it’s worth it. When something stands in your way of success, you’ll have the confidence and tools to crush it.

  • Accomplish your goals.

    When times get tough, you won’t quit. TRIO students come back to school each semester and finish what they started.

TRIO at Illinois State

  • 96%

    96% Retention

  • 99%

    99% Accepted Into Major

  • 94%

    94% Completion

I joined TRIO during a time where I was sad due to family issues and being in TRIO gave me things to look forward to. It gave me a community of great people that I probably wouldn't have crossed paths with and for that, I'm grateful for my TRIO family. 

Jada '24

Business Information Systems

Jada Johnson
KeAndre Carter

The support system in TRIO is amazing! Whenever I needed advice or guidance, they were there for me. They made sure I had a plan to graduate in 4 years, even after changing my major at the end of sophomore year. 

KeAndre '24

Communication: Organizational Leadership Sequence.

TRIO provided me with resources I didn’t know I needed, and ones that I didn’t know were available to me. It gave me a place to feel like I belong and am important. 

Anahi '24

International Business

Anahi Pena
Jakeria Mitchell

TRiO provided me with financial, academic, and personal support tailored to my needs. They offered me much advice and many resources that have helped me during college and afterwards. TRIO gave me a community of people who genuinely wanted to see me win in all aspects of life.

Jakeria '24

Criminal Justice

Devote your time to go to TRIO events, whether it's, Thrive Thursday or conferences because it will lead to many opportunities and connections. Personally, for me, it solidified me going to law school and my desired career path thanks to TRIO! 

Chantal '24

Fashion Design & Merchandising

Chantel Tellez

Triumph: A podcast that elevates first generation voices

The TRIO community does incredible things in their majors, careers, and communities. We’re making their stories known so you can get inspired and imagine your possibilities.

  • The success in uncertainty

    Diana Bender ‘20

    Criminal Justice and Corrections

    Diana shares her experience of not knowing what would become of her academic journey as a First-Gen student. Diana Triumphantly trailblazed a path she could not foresee.

    Listen to Diana’s podcast interview

  • Success has no age limit

    Jeffrey Walsh ‘23

    Politics and Government

    Jeffrey shares what it’s like to be the first in his family to attend and graduate from college, and return for a master’s degree at age 60.

    Listen to Jeffrey’s podcast interview

  • Raising the bar of legacy

    Nadine Khoury ‘22

    Human Development and Family Consumer Sciences

    First in her family to pursue a second degree, Nadine shares how her love of academia and navigational capital helped her immigrant family collectively progress through foreign societal and institutionalized barriers.

    Listen to Nadine’s podcast interview

Find more podcast episodes on:
Facebook Spotify
Sign up to be a podcast guest

Support TRIO

Whether it's furniture for our space or snacks for students to munch on, there are lots of ways you can show your support for TRIO.

Contact TRIO
TRIO students pose for a group photo in Hollywood.'
TRIO students dressed like astronauts pose in simulated shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center.
Three TRIO students hold up a tri-fold poster they made promoting the program.
TRIO students pose for a photo at a conference.
TRIO students pose for a photo while seated at a conference.
TRIO students pose around a tri-fold poster promoting the program.
TRIO students pose for a photo in front of a stage at a conference.
TRIO students pose for a photo while wearing First Gen in College t-shirts.
TRIO students pose for a photo at a dance.
TRIO students pose for a photo in front of a charter bus.
TRIO student uses a stethescope on a practice medical dummy.

Learn More About TRIO

TRIO Student Support Service (SSS) is a federally funded program that began in 1968. It is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help first-generation college students access, navigate, and succeed in higher education. The U.S. Department of Education identifies first-generation students as those whose parents did not obtain a four-year college degree. Illinois State’s TRIO/SSS program recognizes the wealth that first-generation students bring to the campus community and walks with them as they use their social and cultural capital to achieve personal and academic success.

TRIO is a strong program with support at the national, state, and local level. TRIO has been part of Illinois State since 1987, but it all started in 1967 with the War on Poverty and a desire to help people access opportunities that were typically denied to them.

Read how TRIO evolved over the years