Student Support Services receives federal funding for another four years

Adria Barbour

The U.S. Department of Education is funding the Student Support Services branch of the Academic Success Center for another four years.

The federal TRIO grant, totaling more than $400,000, will be used to make tutoring services and other academic support available for university students, said Diane Munson, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Every four years SSS has to re-apply for funding, Munson said. It has to show it is meeting whatever objectives it set, such as retention rates and students’ graduation. SSS also must show it still needs money and there are still students that need its services.

The circumstances of the funding specifies that the money is used to service 300 students per year.

This amount is the most Student Support Services has ever received, Munson said. Each year, SSS is allowed to ask for 3 percent higher than what it received in the past cycle.

“In this cycle, there were about 400 programs that either didn’t get funded for the first time or didn’t get refunded,” Munson said. “We know that was important because the students depend on the services we provide.”

It took months to write the proposal, said Christopher Tokpah, coordinator of the peer mentoring program. The program is limited to the amount it can submit on each subject.

Munson said the university’s support is what really helped get the funding.

“We wouldn’t have gotten the grant if the Department of Education hadn’t seen the support we have from Kent State University,” Munson said.

One of the requirements of the grant is that support from the university is evident for the program. It must demonstrate this by having letters from the different departments on campus saying how they are going to support the program and how they are going to help the student in the program, Munson said.

The Department of Education set guidelines for how the money must be spent, Munson said. The money goes to books and materials for helping tutors teach and students study.

The money also goes to sending professionals who train the tutors on development conferences to learn how to better serve the students, said mathematics specialist Mary Romans. The money also goes to paying the professionals.

A huge amount, however, goes to paying the tutors.

“Some of our students come here receiving services then end up working here,” Munson said. “It’s a really good student job. They make a difference in the lives of the other students.”

The program consists of three parts: tutoring in math and writing, peer mentoring and study groups. These services are mostly given in the Academic Success Center in room 207 of the Michael Schwartz Center.

Though the SSS tutors are there to help with writing and all writing-intensive courses, they are not affiliated with the Writing Center in Satterfield Hall, said Veronica Love, reading and writing specialist.

Student Support Services limits its services’ focus on first generation college students, low-income students and students with disabilities, Munson said.

Student Support Services is a TRIO program. These are programs started by Congress “to help Americans overcome class and social barriers to education,” according to a TRIO fact sheet.

Each program has a function, Munson said. Upward Bound, another TRIO program, targets high school students and veterans with activities and instruction that steers them toward college. Student Support Services helps students while they are in college with tutoring, mentoring and counseling. Then, the McNair Scholars Program prepares students for graduate school.

SSS also gives financial aid to some of the students in the program. To make this available, Kent State has to give money, too. The university matches $1 for every $2 of the grant SSS supplies, and the grant is worth more than $262,000. Vice President of Administration David Creamer’s office matches the money for the past cycle.

There is also another grant in which SSS collaborates with the McNair Scholars Program to lend laptops to students under the program.

“Our mission is to help students earn their degree,” Munson said.

Contact student affairs reporter Adria Barbour at [email protected].