Student Support Services Program at Marshall University awarded $1.4 million in US Department of Education Funding

The federal Student Support Services (SSS) TRiO Program housed within Marshall University – one of the oldest such programs in the nation – has received a grant award totaling $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education.

The SSS program, a retention and graduation program, has been operating at Marshall since 1971 and serves first-generation and low-income students, as well as those with disabilities. Services are designed to help them persist and graduate with their degrees.

The program offers the following services to the SSS participants: academic advising; financial literacy; assistance with financial aid process and concerns; access to computer labs with free printing; individual support and counseling; cultural events; learning community courses and living-learning community experiences; credit courses to orient students with campus, improve study skills, assist with career selection and prepare for graduate school; and leadership opportunities. It also provides $42,000 of grant aid every year to Pell-eligible students for summer tuition and housing expenses.

Securing funding for SSS programs was intensely competitive, said Bonnie Bailey, a counselor with the Student Support Services Program since July 2005. The funding, which will be awarded in annual increments of $284,754, will allow the program to serve its 200 annual students for the next five years. Through this grant, students will have the opportunity to continue their goals and reach success.

In this year’s report to the U.S. Department of Education, Marshall‘s SSS Program marked a retention rate of 90 percent and 98 percent of students were in good academic standing. The program was funded with a 70 percent goal for persistence and an 82 percent goal for good academic standing.

Prior to being the director and counselor of the SSS Program, Bailey worked as a residential, outpatient, and school-based therapist. Bailey is a graduate of Marshall, having received her B.A. in counseling and M.A. in mental health counseling. She will graduate in December 2015 with an Ed.S. in counseling curriculum. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Approved Licensed Professional Supervisor (ALPS) for the State of West Virginia.

“Being a first-generation college student and TRiO participant, I feel honored to have the opportunity to help students utilize their potential to reach their goals and succeed in their future endeavors,” she said. “Making the numbers and meeting the grant’s objectives are important; however, the impact of working with our students produces far more than just high retention and graduation rates.”