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ESU Awarded $1,694,855 To Help Low Income, First Generation, Students With Disabilities Succeed

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Emporia State University a federal TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant of $1,694,855 over the next 5 years to help students succeed in and graduate from college.

SSS began in 1968 as one of eight federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that first-generation students have more difficulties navigating the complexity of college, bolsters students from low income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have and helps students with disabilities remove obstacles preventing them from thriving academically.

TRIO at Emporia State works with middle and high school students through their pre-college programs, as well as college students who are on campus. They serve underrepresented populations of students, including those who are low income, first generation (those whose parents do not have a four-year college degree) and students with disabilities. These services are critical in providing the same opportunities for success their peers are awarded.

Providing access to the resources needed to make informed college choices is one of the key aspects of the program, according to ESU TRIO Director Kristi Bolen. The newly awarded grant will help students at ESU by providing success tools, such as academic tutoring, financial aid assistance, career and college mentoring and other forms of assistance that strive to help students find success and graduate with their four-year degree.

The TRIO SSS program at Emporia State provides services for 165 students annually and has helped over 1,200 students graduate from ESU. An average of 60% to 65% of students involved in the TRIO SSS program at Emporia State graduate with their four-year degree. Meanwhile, the national average for this population of students with SSS is about 30%.

“What our TRIO SSS team does along with our Academic Center for Excellence and Success is absolutely critical to strong retention rates and student advancement,” said ESU President Allison D. Garrett, “They have seen great success over the past few years and helped so many students achieve their dreams.”

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has created extra challenges for students, both academically and at home, TRIO SSS has already adjusted its services to continue to provide students the help they need. Bolen said online or hybrid tutoring, virtual support meetings and extra safety measures in the office allow students to still receive support while staying safe.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keep promising students from succeeding in college,” according to Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education, “Student Support Services is needed now more than ever.”

Since 1986, TRIO Student Support Services at ESU has been helping students succeed. These services contribute not just to individuals, but society as a whole by supporting underrepresented populations and helping students find success. This vital program makes a world of difference at Emporia State and beyond.