CSUSM Awarded $1.5 Million Renewal Grant to Continue Serving Underrepresented Students

Picture of TRIO Students

The U.S. Department of Education awarded California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) a five-year renewal grant totaling $1,508,460 to continue funding academic support for underrepresented students in higher education through the university's TRiO Student Support Services (TRiO SSS) program.

Serving 200 students from first-generation, low-income, and/or disability backgrounds, the goal of TRiO SSS is to increase the retention and graduation rates of college students traditionally at a higher risk for dropping out. Research has continually shown that college students facing great financial hardship or lacking strong academic support are more likely to quit or fail at a higher rate than students without those disadvantages.

"Our retention rate for student participants for the last two academic years has been 90 percent," said Heather Northway, director of TRiO SSS at CSUSM. "Students who would usually be considered high risk are doing great. In fact, more than a third of all TRiO students finished the 2009-20010 academic year with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and 22 qualified for inclusion on the undergraduate Dean's List for spring 2010."

TRiO SSS has been hosted uninterruptedly on campus since 1993. In the last five years, more than 205 student participants have graduated, several earning a degree while completing two majors and a minor. In the 2009-2010 academic year, 45 TRiO SSS students graduated, a remarkable 50 percent increase over the previous year.

The program's recent five-year grant renewal of $1.5 million beat out more than 400 other program proposals, and is one of only 1,026 TRiO programs funded in the nation.

"Now that I reflect back on my success, I don't think it would have been possible had it not been for the support I received from TRiO Student Support Services here on campus," said Carmen Contreras, a recent CSUSM Business Administration graduate.

As a first-generation college student, Contreras felt overwhelmed and confused when she first arrived on campus as a freshman in 2006. Through services made available by TRiO SSS, she received the personal, transitional, and academic support she needed to obtain her degree.

Through the program, student participants can access a variety of services including academic tutoring, counseling, cultural enrichment activities, financial literacy, early interventions and evaluations, mentoring, priority registration, graduate school preparation, laptop loans, supplemental grant aid, workshops, and utilization of The Center at CSUSM, a multipurpose computer lab and studying space.

"Thanks to TRiO SSS, I can now say that I am one step closer to reaching one of my long-term goals, which is to become a successful business woman who gives back to her community," added Contreras.

For more information about the TRiO SSS program at CSUSM, contact Heather Northway at (760) 750-8024 or visit www.csusm.edu/sss.

"Now that I reflect back on my success, I don't think it would have been possible had it not been for the support I received from TRiO Student Support Services here on campus," said Carmen Contreras, a recent CSUSM Business Administration graduate.