TRIO SSS grant renewed to provide opportunities for first-generation college students

 Coastal Bend College officials were pleased to recently learn that the TRiO Student Support Services program for first-generation college students would be renewed for another five years. Funded under Federal Higher Education Act of 1965, TRiO provides funding for special outreach and academic support services for low-income students, most of whom are the first in their families to go to college. Nationally, students in TRiO Student Support Services programs are more than twice as likely to remain in college than those students from similar backgrounds who do not participate in the programs.

The CBC TRIO SSS program began in 1970 and serves 215 participants each program year. All of the eligible participants have a need for academic support. The majority are low-income individuals who are first-generation college students.

 The program also serves low-income students with disabilities. TRIO SSS provides participants with academic counseling, tutoring, financial aid advising, book/laptop loans, campus tours to various universities, cultural activities, student enrichment workshops and a community of support. Jeri Morton is Student Support Services Project Director; Kayla Jones is SSS Counselor and Sylvia Lopez is SSS Secretary.

 One of the goals of the program is to provide the necessary tools and services so that students can attain all of their higher educational goals. “Our hope is that students in our program obtain associate’s degrees from CBC, then transfer to four-year universities to pursue their bachelor’s degrees,” Morton said.

 “Students are encouraged to remain in good academic standing throughout the semester,” Morton explained. “We do this by remaining in contact with our students on a consistent basis through face-to-face appointments, phone calls, e-mails and Facebook.”

The TRIO Student Support Services application for funding cycle 2010-2014 was very competitive. Existing grants needed to show a strong and compelling reason to get re-funded. All existing grants needed to provide data that each program met or exceeded their objectives.

 “Thanks to our grant writer, Velma Elizalde, Dean of Student Services, our efforts were made clear through our grant,” Morton said. The Department of Education stated that approximately 90 grants at colleges across the country would not be funded again.

 The local SSS program staff was made aware of their grant award with phone calls from Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Rubén Hinojosa.

 “One of the biggest objectives for an institution of higher learning is being able to provide an educational environment which allows all students to complete their courses through graduation”, said Rep. Hinojosa. “This grant from the U.S. Department of Education will certainly assist Coastal Bend College in helping more students to succeed and guiding them to fulfill their dream of obtaining a college degree.”

 For more information about TRIO Student Support Services, call (361) 354-2718.

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