Clarksville, TN – In 1998, Austin Peay State University initiated the TRiO Student Support Services program—a federally funded program designed to help those students who are first-generation college students, disabled or who come from low-income backgrounds.
APSU’s Student Support Services (SSS) has assisted thousands of students in the last 17 years, and the program will continue to serve even more thanks to the recent awarding of a five-year, $1.3 million U.S. Department of Education grant.APSU received the highly competitive federal grant after earning a perfect score of 106 in the application process. John Johnson, director of the program, said it’s easy to keep his staff motivated because their main goal every day is to help these students.
“A lot of times, these are the students who will fall through the cracks because they sometimes need additional support,” he said. “If you’re low-income, first generation, you don’t have parents who have been to college so you don’t know the whole process. You don’t know your responsibilities for going to school, such as coming to class ready to learn, making sure you have all your materials ready, meeting with your professors and using all the resources available. We fill in those gaps.”
The SSS program provides eligible students with tutoring, academic counselors, financial literacy training, academic workshops, cultural activities and information on graduate schools. The program serves about 180 students each year, with the goal of getting them to earn a college degree within six years. Since its inception in 1998, the program has helped boost APSU’s retention and graduation rates.
For Johnson, the program has also helped changed the trajectory of hundreds of families.
“We are changing generations by what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re breaking that family cycle of not having a college education. Now you have someone who has broken that, and they’re going to spread the word, and the family is going to do better for generations.”
The new federal award will provide APSU with $257,000 a year for the next five years to continue the program. With 79 percent of APSU students eligible for financial aid, Johnson said the SSS program serves a real need within the student population.
“We’re here to help students,” he said. “That’s our whole premise.”
For more information on the TRiO Student Support Services, visit the program’s website at www.apsu.edu/SSS