By Jeff Murphy, June 26, 2019
WARRENSBURG, MO – Providing a boost to programs that contribute to the success of disadvantaged students, the University of Central Missouri has received a 5 percent increase in federal grant funding for TRIO-Student Support Services (TRIO-SSS) programs at UCM in 2019-2020.
Chris Beggs, executive director for academic support services, said the university will receive approximately $350,000 in funding for the final year of the five-year competitive grant. The grant was awarded from the United States Department of Education in 2015, providing a total of $1.5 million over its duration to support TRIO-SSS. This is one of three TRIO programs that receive federal support at the university. At the time this grant was funded, UCM received $304,000 annually toward the grant total.
Beggs said the university is pleased to receive additional TRIO funding. It helps fulfill a tremendous need to assist students who face unique challenges in their educational pursuits.
“The extra funding will help support an additional full-time advisor and several student employment positions that help support program objectives,” Beggs said. “This helps us cut our advising caseloads in half, allowing for more focused and frequent interactions with students.”
TRIO-SSS serves 216 students who are first-generation, low-income or have disabilities. Over the past 41 years, UCM has continually secured funding for these programs through an extensive grant application process. TRIO-SSS provides services such as tutoring, peer mentoring, workshops, career counseling, tuition-free courses and a computer lab for students.
Such efforts are important to student retention initiatives at UCM, and the university is seeing positive results.
“Right now, we have 96 percent of our first-year students re-enrolled for the fall semester,” said Lacey Hites, assistant director of TRIO-Student Support Services.
She spoke about the role of TRIO at UCM, adding, “TRIO builds a strong relationship with our students from the time they're accepted into our program until the time they leave the institution, hopefully at graduation. We do this by instilling a sense of unity with each student that they are not alone on this journey. We do not make college easier for students, but we promise to mitigate the burden of fear and confusion from the experience by providing them with relevant and timely information, a dedicated home-base, and most importantly and impactfully, the assurance that they have someone in their corner who they trust and can count on, no matter the issue or obstacle.”
She added, “All it takes is one person to believe in these students, to be available for them, and to encourage and guide them on their way to reaching their goals.”
Nationally, TRIO programs have existed for 55 years. The other TRIO programs at UCM are the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, known as McNair Scholars, and the Veterans Upward Board program. McNair Scholars helps underrepresented students to prepare for doctoral study, and Veterans Upward Bound provides supportive services for men and women who served this country to enter or re-enter post-secondary education. Both are funded through federal grants.