West Virginia University Institute of Technology is pleased to announce that the federal Student Support Services (SSS) TRiO program housed within the University – one of the oldest such programs in the nation – received a grant award totaling $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education.
The SSS program has been operating on WVU Tech’s campus since 1971 and offers first-generation, low-income and disabled students services designed to help them on their path to completing a degree. The program accomplishes this with a suite of tutoring services, access to computer labs, printing services, financial literacy seminars, academic advisement, scholarships and outside cultural experiences.
The funding, which will be awarded in annual increments of $343,138, will allow the program to serve its 215 annual students for the next five years.
Scott Robertson, Director of the SSS program at WVU Tech, said that the award is a chance for the program to grow in scope.
“We’re going to continue offering the tutoring and other programming that our students find so valuable,” he said. “Through this grant, we’ll also be able to try new strategies and new ideas to increase retention and completion rates. We’ll be able to enhance the experience that is already working so well for so many of our students.”
Robertson said that one such expansion will be the addition of peer mentors: student workers who will be assigned to first-generation students enrolled in the SSS program.
“These new student mentors will participate in programming initiatives and workshops with program students. They’ll encourage them in their coursework, attend cultural events with them and serve as role models,” said Robertson.
The program will also use the funding to add a student success advisor position, boosting the SSS staff at WVU Tech to five full-time employees.
Securing funding for SSS programs is intensely competitive, and the grant writing process for Robertson’s team started back in September 2014. Robertson attributes the success of the program’s grant request to his students’ desire to overcome setbacks and see their college experience through.
“The hard work of our staff, the hours our tutors put into helping their peers reach their goals and the sheer drive of our students to complete their degrees shows that what is being done here at WVU Tech is working,” he said.
Statistics tell the same story. In this year’s report to the U.S. Department of Education, WVU Tech’s SSS program marked a persistence rate of 90% with 92% of students in good academic standing. The program was funded with 65% in mind for both those figures.
“WVU Tech’s support of this kind of programming shows a real desire among the University’s faculty, staff and administration to see students succeed in and outside of the classroom,” said Robertson.
“This program plays an important role in the University’s retention efforts and it’s a part of the campus culture of student success that our dedicated faculty and staff have created to help our students navigate their unique educational paths,” said Richard Carpinelli, WVU Tech Dean of Students.
Read more about the SSS program at WVU Tech at http://wvute.ch/1MUHem9.