The UNM Student Support Services (SSS) program, part of the TRiO program, was recently awarded funding in the amount of $1.23 million from the U.S. Department of Education to support their program from Sept. 1, 2015 through Aug. 31, 2020. The award process to secure the grant was extremely competitive as the number of applicants increased and the number of programs to receive TRiO funds decreased.
"We are so excited to have received this grant which will help us continue to serve our students and help them succeed in college and graduate," said Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, student program specialist with SSS.
This award allows the existing UNM SSS program to assist this population as well as students with documented disabilities by providing invaluable services designed to increase retention and graduation rates. So far, the program has been able to boast that 100 percent of its students are in good academic standing.
“I am delighted that SSS has been re-funded for another five-year cycle,” said Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, vice president for student affairs. “This is a great program which supports our students and enhances diversity as well as retention and graduation rates.”
According to Blue Sky-Hill, 93 percent of the SSS population are both first-generation and have high financial need. “Students of first generation and high financial need backgrounds are generally unprepared for the rigors of college and they are more likely to drop out than their peers,” she said. “Students with little to no financial help from their families often struggle with balancing time with job(s), classes and study time.”
“As a first generation college student, I was not prepared for the challenges I would face in college,” said Tracy Chacon, a UNM SSS alumni. “Through the tutoring support, intensive advisement services and cultural events, I was able to learn how to navigate through college to be successful.”
The SSS program is designed to spend meaningful time with the incoming cohort. Consequently, these methods lead to an SSS program persistence rate of 97 percent of students staying and enrolling at UNM from their freshmen year to their sophomore year.
“I feel grateful for having SSS as a freshman college student,” said second year SSS student, Gabriel Aguirre. “SSS was huge in helping me succeed in my first year and I was able to make new friends, get advisement, personal guidance and tutoring whenever needed.”
The Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) are Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist high financial need individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
For more information on the program, visit the UNM SSS TRiO.