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Common Questions from the TRIO Community Regarding Program Operations and Student Service During COVID019
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** These answers are provided by the Council for Opportunity in Educaiton, based on their most up to date information gathered from working with the U.S. Department of Education**
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RESPONSE TYPEQUESTIONSRESPONSES
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OTHERSince this is my first policy seminar, I am wondering if there is a new attendees workshop? I would be willing to come at 7 AM Eastern time or anytime throughout the day, so I can understand a little bit more about how to engage throughout these two days.There is not a new attendee workshop for ED and Policy Seminar. We hope your team for Policy Seminar can take you under their wing and answer any questions you have. For ED questions email angelica.vialpando@coenet.org and for Policy Seminar email jonathan.elkin@coenet.org.
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CARRYFORWARD/NO COST EXTENSIONWill all TRIO programs receive a no-cost extension to spend down program funds given the COVID-19 Pandemic?2 CFR 200.308(d)(3) provides the Department the blanket authority allow an institution or agency sponsoring a TRIO grant to carry forward amounts of money from one year of a grant cycle to the next. NO INSTITUTION SHOULD ASK FOR A NO COST EXTENSION since it is the policy of the Department to automatically allow carry forward of up to $30,000 in TRIO funds in any year, except the last year, of a TRIO grant. COE anticipates that the amount allowed to be carry forward will be increased this year. However, ED has not responded to COE’s question regarding whether there will be a ceiling to this amount.
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FLEXIBILITYThe COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many communities and servicing our participants has become increasingly difficult. Please comment on the possible relaxation of certain programmatic requirements based on our inability to achieve them in a timely manner.Please identify the requirements for which you are thinking of requesting a waiver and we will try to be more helpful
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SSS COMPETITIONHow has the COVID-19 effected the reading and scoring of SSS proposals? Will we still hear the slate in a timely manner?ED stated on Monday, March 23 that the SSS Competition and Training Grant Competition are still proceeding and their goal is that initial notifications will go out early July.
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SSS GRANT AIDOriginally our proposal did not contemplate SSS Grant Aid. We are in our fourth year of the cycle. Given the events we are going through and unused funds in the past years, it is possible to receive approval to use unspent funds from previous years to provide SSS Grant Aid to students. Even though the original document approved in 2014 did not include SSS Grant Aid?Question was sent to ED.
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FLEXIBILITYFor TRIO pre-college programs such as UB and TS, what flexibility/guidance is ED giving for reaching/serving students in closed school districts?Please identify the requirements for which you are thinking of requesting a waiver and we will try to be more helpful
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TRANSFER OF FUNDS AMONG LINE ITEMSIs ED allowing travel funds in TRiO budgets to be redirected as COVID-19 has had a major impact on student travel as well as staff professional development.ED already allows this. Under OMB 200.308 it states the 7 items you need prior written approval for your budgets. If your travel money is in your modified total direct section of the budget you have the authority to move it anywhere in your budget. If your money is in your "other" section of the budget, if you moving money from one subline of participant support costs to another, you have the authority to do this without approval. If you are moving from participant support costs to modified total direct costs, you would need approval.
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OTHERWill there be any federal bailout or stimulus funds made available to state and regional associations who lost significant revenue from regularly scheduled professional development opportunities to TRIO professionals?The only assistance available to state or regional associations appears to be access to expanded SBA loans. However, contact Tallie Sertich (tallie.sertich@coenet.org) or Jen Rudolph (jenrudolph292@gmail.com) —who will work with you to see if there are alternate ways you might provide paid services to your members. COE is certainly ready to assist you.
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SSS COMPETITIONHow has the COViD19 impacted the reading and scoring of the Training grants? Is it possible a new completion could be held for a COVID19 relates training. Programs need support in offering on line and virtual services, providing mental health awareness to COVID19 related issues, and documenting services that are offered in these new ways.See line 7
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FLEXIBILITY1. Now that we have to adopt a new normal in our everyday and how we serve students. What would be considered an unallowable/allowable cost? How creative are we allowed to be to expend dollars?COE will be hosting several conversations about using exsisting funds in the "new normal". These conversations will talk about the allowability. Is there any specific unallowable costs you would like to see allowable? If yes, resubmit your question.
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CARRYFORWARD/NO COST EXTENSIONWill the SSS programs ending Aug 31 be able to carry over unused funds if they are awarded a new grant?On March 19, the Office of Management and Budget provided guidance to the Department of Education allowing them to “automatically extend grants that were ending for a period of 12 months.” COE anticipates that ED will utilize the flexibility and automatically extend grants. Expect an answer to this question in the FAQ’s the Dr. Chris McCaghren promised to provide in his remarks to those attending COE’s Seminar on Relations with the Department of Education.
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OTHERAre TRIO professionals considered "essential" employees so that we can continue serving our students throughout this pandemic?"Essential" employee is defined by your instittuion. Are all non-essential staff "laid off"? Please follow-up with angelica.vialpando@coenet.org
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VUB APRGiven that many campus are closed, will DOE provide any flexibility to the dates of submission of the VUB APR? Currently, only essential personnel are allowed on campus.ED has stated that they will be taking this under consideration (which is a question submitted to ED). The date has been pushed back to March 31 and that is tentative at best. OMB's memo also states that ED can abbreviate their current performance reportings. COE will monitor and keep the community informed.
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FLEXIBILITYPlease provide guidance to programs such as VUB and EOC in regards to recruitment activities. Many programs recruit year-round. Social distancing has made current recruitment practices challenging if not impossible.See line 13.
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGPlease provide guidance to UB programs in regards to expectations in completing Summer Program requirements. Some campuses are suspending all programming indefinitely.In guidance provided on March 26 to institutions and organizations sponsoring training under the TRIO training authority, the Department asked grantees to explore the possibility of providing on-line training. Please meet with your staff (virtually or by conference call) and consider the extent to which this is feasible. Other vehicles for continued contact with students that may being employed by school districts in your target area should also be considered.
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MCNAIR RECRUITMENT/ CARRYFORWARDMany colleges are now closed for in person attendance and classes, moving to online. For many TRIO programs (i.e., esp. McNair) spring is the main recruitment time for the next cohort and summer features the summer research program. What will happen if programs struggle to meet recruitment numbers? While programs can deliver the skills and teaching necessary for scholarship online, it might not be possible to deliver educational trip or cultural events. Will allowances be made given the current crisis, in terms of services delivered and rolling over unspent monies to provide the services later in the year (but not budget year)?In COE’s opinion, eliminating cultural activities or field trips is not a change of scope and under 2CFR Sec. 308 does not require permission from the Department. Students did not have to participate in a research experience to be a McNair participants. COE would advise consulting with your faculty mentors and current McNair scholars to determine ways to meet your numbers. Please see line 2 regarding Carryover.
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STEM TS/CARRYFORWARDRE: Talent Search STEM Supplemental. Programs that were mandated to cancel all programming because of campus and state requirements have been unable to successfully utilize this funding. Will the DOE allow these programs to allocate theses funds for STEM activities for the 2020-2021 fiscal year?There is no difference between carrying over STEM money and Carrying over other monies. See line 2
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SSS COMPETITIONBELOW ARE QUESTIONS COMPILED FROM WESTOP PROGRAMS (CA, NV, AZ AND PACIFIC ISLANDS PROGRAMS)

-Will there be any delay to the TRIO SSS Grant competition give the COVID-19 pandemic?
Governor Newsom has indicated that schools will be closed through the end of the year.
See line 7.
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JOB SECURITYMy staff asked about job security. Worried about the funding being taken?

We are in WA State- will there be more specific ‘expectations’ than those states that don’t or have not been hit as hard?
Right now COE is concerned with language in the last Covid 19 bill that -/ with the approval of the Secretary—provides broad authority to the institution in the use of TRIO funds. Contact Jonathon Elkin at jonathan.elkin@coenet.org for information about better targeting this language.
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SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS/MODIFICATION OF OBJECTIVESStaying aligned with meeting grant goals/objectives during this time are we required to hit the same amount of students before this crisis?COE has asked the Department for guidance with respect to the protocols they will put in place in terms of modifying objectives. Currently, for continued funding a program must make substantial progress, defined in the third and fourth years of grants to be serving 85% of the numbers the institution or agency was funded to serve. We anticipate that this number will be lowered – particularly for EOC’s., Talent Search and VUB..
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I just learned that the internet connectivity is an allowable cost, does it mean that we can pay for our students' connectivity at their home or on the go, or both?Connectivity is allowed in the TRIO regulations. COE is going to announce on Monday a partnership with Comcast that will give discounted connectivity for TRIO Programs that are in their footprint.
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CARRYFORWARD/NO COST EXTENSION FLEXIBILITY SSS GRANT AIDHello, I am new to TRIO and an tying to find the right questions to ask.
Most of the industries we have scheduled campus tours, cultural activities with have been able to refund me, however I am having a hard time spending out.

Given the circumstances- wondering if I can increase grant aid to award all SSS & STEM SSS that are enrolled and eligible to receive grant aid per the guidelines?

Recruitment will be difficult to do, how will that be handled? Can we decrease number served?

We have to spend out this year, will that be pushed out or revised? Given a lot of our student activities are canceled it will be difficult to spend out.

Competition question: Would we still hear back in July? What are the thoughts on that.

Thank you for all your hard work, we are in this together!
COE will be providing a number of professional development offerings to help you enhance your offerings and meet student need in this difficult time. Carryover: See line 2. Spending out/carryover/Student Support Services recruitment Increasing grant aid: As discussed in line 8, a director – with few exceptions not relevant here – has the authority to transfer monies from one line item to another. Therefore, you are able to transfer money into grant aid. Legislation currently being considered by Congress would eliminate the matching requirement for grant aid. If your institution does not qualify for a waiver of this matching requirement and you cannot meet it, you should await guidance from ED on the implementation of this legislation. Recruitment: This may be an ideal time to recruit students. Have you spoken with your FA office regarding full Pell recipients for whom they have particular concern in meeting course requirements? Reaching out and providing support to these students would help you meet your numbers.
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGWill McNair Summer Research, Upward Bound Residential and SSS Bridge Programs be required to operate in May, June, July and August?See line 18
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SSS COMPETITIONI’m sure it’s been asked, but just wondering if there is a timeline for SSS grant award notifications? ThanksSee line 7.
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CARRYFORWARD/NO COST EXTENSIONFor all grant funds not used this fiscal year, will they be rolled over into next year's pot?See line 5.
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FLEXIBILITYMy program, ETS at Humboldt State, is trying to figure out the best strategy to collect student signatures/verification of services. We use actual signatures on sign-in sheets for every contact. Our institution and directors have thought to do a Google form with timestamp, and possibly having students sign for a month's or semester's worth of contacts, via docusign or actual signature if restrictions lift. We would like some guidance on this.ED stated that forms with timestamps with a signature would be considered good forms of documentation. COE will be providing examples of software useful in collecting appropriate documentation.
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SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS/ANNUAL PERFORMANCE/CARRYFORWAD1. Can grant aid be added to your current budget?
2. Can SSS programs carry over unused funds into new grant cycle if awarded?
3. Can monies put down on a trip be used in a postponement of the trip into next year?
4. If our numbers are not met on APR will we be penalized? This is our 5th year.
See line 26 for SSS Grant Aid; see line 3 for carryforward; you will need to make at least 85%, email angelica.vialpando@coenet.org. It is your 5th year and you will not be penalized for PE points.
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In addition to help keep funding with TRIO grants, what does DOE proposel to "raise the stacks" of education to support our students to be more competitive in the arena of work field?
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STIPENDSCurrently, our program does not offer stipends to students due to budget limitations. Given the current circumstances, we will likely have cost savings and would like to implement a stipend system with those funds to lessen the financial blow to families and keep students engaged remotely. Can we move forward in making this adjustment to our programming?See line 14 - because of this flexibility, COE advises you to do this.
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGWhat is the Department's expectations of and guidance on the operation of summer programs in situations where the institutions have restricted all K-12 programming?Has your institution restricted all K-12 programming? Can you email angelica.vialpando@coenet.org before we answer this question.
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JOB SECURITYHow do we handle staff working at home if we can't find enough work for them to do?
Do we continue to pay our part time tutors, even though they may not be able to tutor at this time?
Before deciding that you cannot find work for your staff, why don’t you brainstorm with them and with your students about their needs? Tutors certainly are able to tutor by phone or on-line. Counselors including peer counselors need to be reaching out to students as much as possible
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGWhat at the Department's plans for pre-college programs whose institutions have restricted in-person programming for K-12 programs during the summer?See line 18
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FLEXIBILITYGiven the current closure of many school districts which severely limits pre-college program's capacity to recruit new students at a critical time, what are the Department's expectations, guidance, or allowances for those programs having difficulty meeting their numbers moving toward the end of program years?The answer to this depends on whether you are in Talent Search or Upward Bound. See question 24 for Talent Search. For Upward Bound, if you are not at 85% of your numbers email angelica.vialpando@coenet.org. Sit on our webinars starting next week to help you strategize this situation.
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STUDENT RECORDSWhat do we have to be cautious about in respect to confidentiality during this time? We are increasing our contact with students via email.This is a great question. Staff need to be extremely cautious with files. Never put sensitive information into an email. You can take this kind of info over the phone or a sercured form. You may need to get with your IT team to stategize how to collect signatures in a secured form. COE will be providing examples of software useful in collecting appropriate documentation.
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STUDENT RECORDSUnder current restrictions on in-person programming due to COVID-19, are there specific expectations for the documentation of services being given remotely by programs aside from those found in program regulations? How will this period affect expected reporting on the APR?You have the authority to change services and activities. You as a team will need to strategize. COE will host webinars and highlight effective practices from the field.
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TECHNOLOGYWith serving students in rural areas where technology hardware and internet availability are limited, could you provide guidance on the change of delivery of services to virtual options for the academic year and possibly for summer.To assist you it would be helpful to know: how many students you serve, how many of them have internet access in their homes and what internet providers are available in your area. It would also be useful to know how school districts in your target area are working with students. Could you acquire this information by calling or texting students? Please get back to angelica.vialpando@coenet.org.
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGWhat do we do if we are still on lockdown in May and summer program for UB is affected? Meaning we can't hold UB summer program. ThanksCarryforward - See line 3; Summer Programming - see line 18
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CARRYFORWARD/STIPENDSRegarding McNair: We may not be able to travel this summer due to COVID, and this will mean that we have carryover that exceeds what is typically allowable. How will the department handle this?

We have scholars who this summer cannot do data collection on their research projects because the institution is closed and they do not have access to labs. Can we make stipend payments if they are not making progress due to this issue?
Have your faculty mentors develop alternative assignments for their students, perhaps involving on-line research and continue to pay stipends.
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STIPENDSI heard on Friday that money can be diverted to grant aid. Does that apply to Upward Bound even though we don't have grant aid in our grant? Alternatively, are stipends allowed to be increased? Thank you.Grant aid is restricted to SSS. Upward Bound stipends, by law, are limited to $40 in the academic year and $60 in the summer. However, during summer you can pay $300 through work-study. Why don’t you strategize with your staff and students as to what contributions they could make to their communities for which they could be paid UB work-study.
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGCan Upward Bound give a larger amount for stipends both during the academic year and the summer?See line 46
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SUMMER PROGRAMMINGI'm sure this has been asked numerous times, but I would like clear guidance regarding summer programming for Upward Bound. What are the expectations this year? If the expectation is to go online somehow, are there finances to provide remote access to participants (laptops, internet, etc.), or can we use our current funds to provide this access?See line 43; See line 46
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OBJECTIVESWill we be penalized if we can’t make our numbers?See line 40
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CARRYFORWARD/NO COST EXTENSIONWhat will be to recommendation for funds that go unspent due to having to cancel or postpone programs and servicesSee line 5
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TS STEM/CARRYFORWARDTalent Search Supplemental Grant - much of what we planned to use this funding for is scheduled to happen in June - if these camps and trips are cancelled and cannot happen, can we carry over the Supplemental Grant monies for the following summer?See line 20
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SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS/MODIFICATION OF OBJECTIVESI am with an EOC TRIO program, currently we are not able to reach out to the community and recruit because of the COVID-19. I am concerned that we will not meet our set number of students we are supposed to recruit. Also, I am concerned that we will not meet our objectives. Will the department of Ed lower the number of students we are supposed to meet for the grant year?See line 26
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