The Biden administration is pursuing a misguided policy that would allow illegal immigrants to access taxpayer-financed college preparatory programs.

The migrant crisis, fueled by the current administration, is already stretching our country’s social services programs to the point of collapse. Using taxpayer dollars to help undocumented students get to college, when many American students are ineligible for the very same programs, perfectly encapsulates this administration’s misguided policy positions: Tax hardworking citizens to support pet policies that appease a leftist base and do it all through an opaque regulatory process to avoid public outcry.   

The TRIO program is the Biden administration’s latest target. Created by Congress in the 1960s and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO is intended to help students from under-represented groups get to college and succeed there.

TRIO has grown from the initial three programs (hence the name) to a collection of eight. It now disburses $1.2 billion annually in grants to nonprofits and colleges, which in turn provide services to participating students. 

If the Biden administration gets its way, illegal immigrant students could avail themselves of tutoring, mentorship, financial aid counseling and more paid for by TRIO grant money.  

TRIO programs are intended to help students from low-income families, first-generation college students, students with disabilities and other underrepresented groups. These opportunities are currently restricted to citizens, permanent residents, and those on the path to permanent residency.  

A plan released by the Department of Education would allow students outside those categories who are enrolled in U.S. high schools to participate. In Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that children brought to the U.S. illegally are permitted to enroll in K-12 public schools.  

There is no other way to say it: American taxpayers will be funding college prep for illegal immigrants. A teenager from a middle-class household, who has lived in America his whole life, and whose parents pay their taxes each year, would likely be ineligible for TRIO (especially if one or both of his parents have a bachelor’s degree). But a teenager brought here by parents who came to the U.S. illegally would be eligible for the program, paid for by families of kids who aren’t. 

As unfair as this policy change would be, it may not even benefit the people it is supposed to help. Data on TRIO outcomes is as scarce as it is outdated. The program is so well-lobbied that, in 2008, Congress actually prohibited the Department of Education from completing a randomized study of TRIO participants. 

A late 2020 report from the Government Accountability Office found that the department had never assessed the efficacy of three programs within TRIO and that it was not doing enough to verify some grantees’ self-reported data on outcomes.  

Biden’s proposed change to TRIO eligibility would either spend billions of taxpayer dollars to provide illegal immigrants an unfair advantage or spend billions to provide no one any benefit at all. Plus, even if TRIO were to help illegal immigrant students get to college, those students would still be ineligible for Federal Student Aid when they got there… at least, for now. 

America can’t afford to waste $1.2 billion each year. The federal government is $34 trillion in debt, and every dollar it prints not only worsens that debt, but also fuels the fire of inflation that is making not only college – but even groceries and utility bills – impossibly expensive for many. 

If the Biden administration gets its way, illegal immigrant students could avail themselves of tutoring, mentorship, financial aid counseling and more paid for by TRIO grant money.  

If the TRIO programs are delivering less-than-spectacular results, the money would be better spent elsewhere or better not spent at all. 

This proposed policy change also comes at a time when our southern border is overrun with migrants. Every benefit the federal government provides to undocumented immigrants is another incentive for more people to cross the border illegally.  

Right now, undocumented students are not permitted to access federal student loans, but more than a dozen states make financial aid available to students regardless of immigration status.  

The Department of Education began developing a new regulation in January to expand TRIO to illegal aliens, with another meeting scheduled in February. An official policy change may not be far behind. In the meantime, Americans would do well to recognize that, in the interest of partisan politics, the Department of Education is putting Americans last.