Aspire, one of the federally funded TRIO programs, has a rich history as a Keene State department and as part of a national movement. The generic federal name for the Aspire program is Student Support Services.
Student Support Services was initially authorized as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students in the Higher Education Act of 1968. Upward Bound and Talent Search had been authorized three years earlier, and together, the three programs became known as the TRIO Programs. To this day they share a common mission: access, retention and graduation from postsecondary education for disadvantaged students.
TRIO programs originated during the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, and were a part of his “War on Poverty” along with federal financial aid, Headstart, and a several other programs designed to address poverty using education as a vehicle.
Keene State’s first TRIO program, Upward Bound, originated in 1974 at Windham College in Putney, VT and that program moved to Keene State in 1977. The original Keene State College Student Support Services (Aspire) proposal was submitted in 1979.
Aspire became the second Keene State TRIO program when it was funded effective September 1, 1980. At that time, federal regulations allowed SSS programs to serve low-income students. The early federal definition of “disadvantaged student” was specifically individuals whose family income fell below federal poverty guidelines.
Since the Aspire program could only serve low-income students with its federal funds, additional funds were contributed by the College to offer tutoring to students who did not meet the federal income guidelines.
During the 1982-83 academic year, the federal eligibility guidelines changed as a result of the 1980 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and first generation students and students with disabilities became eligible under the grant.
In 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect. ADA broadened institutional obligations with regard to particular students far beyond what was available or allowable within the Aspire grant, e.g. modifications in residence halls to make them more accessible; notetakers, readers and scribes for certain students with disabilities. From 1992 to 2000 Aspire shared responsibility with the institution to provide services to students with disabilities and meet the requirements of the ADA.
Currently, the Office of Disabilities Services houses documentation and determines ADA accommodations for students with disabilities. Aspire remains active in its academic support and educational counseling of all eligible students.