Salt Lake Community College was recently awarded two TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) Grants by the Department of Education to benefit disabled, low-income and first-generation students.
TRiO is a set of federally funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree. A total of 790,000 low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities — from sixth grade through college graduation — are served by over 2,800 programs nationally. The $2.8 million in federal funds for TRiO SSS programs at SLCC will provide participants personalized academic tutoring, counseling, mentoring, financial guidance and other support shown to improve educational retention, completion and transfer. These services are especially needed for low-income and first-generation students, who make up the majority of SLCC enrollees and often face significant financial and social barriers to college. To maximize benefits to participants and improve the likelihood of success, SLCC designed the programs to utilize existing best practices, as well as identify others. The College’s SSS programs have been designed to strategically interact with other effective support programs at the College, such as First Year Experience, Bridge to Success and InnovaBio.
All SSS programs nationwide underwent a new rigorous evaluation during the competition and not all existing programs were continued. The existing SSS programs faced competition from new SSS award categories, and SLCC rose to the top in receiving about $1.7 million to continue the College’s existing SSS program, and nearly $1.1 million for a new SSS STEM program. By improving retention, completion and transfer for STEM majors, the TRiO SSS STEM program will also address the need for a well-trained STEM workforce. As the main point of entry to college in Utah for low-income and first-generation students, SLCC has an integral role in the STEM workforce pipeline. By facilitating retention, completion and transfer of STEM students, the TRiO SSS STEM program can have a significant effect on the number of persons trained in STEM fields. Each of the SSS programs at SLCC will assist low-income, first generation and disabled students in accessing and completing a higher education. Given the historically high rates of retention and completion of TRiO SSS participants, the new TRiO SSS grants were specifically designed to identify and promote the use of best practices connected with these successful outcomes.