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FSU to Receive $1.6 Million TRiO Grant Over 5 Years to Support Qualified Students
08/04/2015

A Frostburg State University program that helps 275 eligible students has received a competitive federal grant of $332,930 per year, totaling more than $1.6 million over the next five years. FSU’s TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) Program, the only four-year SSS program in Western Maryland, has been continually funded since 1973.

SSS helps first-generation students, which are those whose parents do not have a four-year degree, students who meet Department of Education income guidelines and students with a documented learning or physical disability. FSU students who participate in the TRiO-SSS program persist and graduate at higher rates than the national average.

“This program changes lives,” said Tamara Lowry, director of SSS at FSU. “I see firsthand how the SSS program improves students’ opportunities for success in higher education. Most of these students are the first in their family to earn a college degree, providing a strong sense of accomplishment for not only themselves but also for their family. The SSS program provides a support network for a population that may otherwise falter in pursuit of a college degree.”

Nearly half of FSU’s incoming students each year are eligible for the SSS program. Through mandatory intensive academic advisement, academic monitoring, financial aid/literacy counseling, professional tutoring and academic skills development, SSS helps these students successfully transition from high school to university.

“We have a high need for the program,” Lowry said. “We always have a high percentage of students who are eligible. Unfortunately there is limited space.”

“It’s not a handout,” said Harriet Douglas, director of Programs Advancing Student Success. “Students have to actively participate in this program, and that’s what makes it successful.”

“Initially, it’s very intense,” Lowry said. “Students must meet with SSS staff regularly. Establishing a relationship with staff members is instrumental in students’ success.”

As SSS students near completion, the program offers counseling sessions to facilitate their transition to careers or graduate schools. In spite of their challenges, SSS alumni have flourished in college and achieved successful careers. After graduation, many of Lowry’s students remain in touch, emailing or calling her with updates on their lives and careers.

“It’s like a big family. We work with every major from Athletic Training to Wildlife and Fisheries. We have students who’ve earned their Ph.D.’s. SSS alumni go on to work for the government, private industry … even as physicians.”

In addition to SSS, FSU hosts two other TRiO Programs. Upward Bound prepares high school students for college. The Regional Math and Science Center provides a similar program for high school students interested in careers in areas of math and science. FSU also participates in the TRiO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which helps eligible graduate students obtain advanced degrees.

The TRiO programs originated in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” to close educational opportunity gaps in the U.S. TRiO-SSS was established through the 1968 Higher Education Act. The federal grant to FSU’s SSS Program will finance approximately 66 percent of the total program costs, and the remainder will be financed through state funding.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.

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For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu