APSU’s TRiO Student Support Services program will continue helping first-generation college students with a $1.3 million grant distributed over the next five years.

The SSS program received this highly competitive grant after scoring a perfect 106 on their application process.

The SSS program was started 17 years ago to assist students who are first-generation college students or come from low-income families.

The program provides students with tutoring, academic counselors, financial literacy training, academic workshops, cultural activities and information on graduate schools.

Director of the program John Johnson said TRiO SSS is important because it focuses on students in need.

“A lot of times, these are the students who will fall through the cracks because they sometimes need additional support,” Johnson said.

The premise of the program is that students who haven’t been exposed to the college lifestyle aren’t aware of the responsibilities and stress college students endure.

“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,” Johnson said. “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 goal is for the students to earn their degrees within six years.

Approximately 180 students take advantage of these resources each year.

By helping to increase graduation rates, Johnson said the program is also changing families.

“We are changing generations by what we’re doing,” Johnson 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.”

According to Johnson, the program is staffed by four members who are motivated to simply help those who need it.

The mission of the program is to provide academic services and a supportive environment in order to retain and graduate low income, first generation and disabled college students.

TRiO Student Support Services Program at APSU is funded by the U.S. Department of Education at $244,735 or 100 percent of the total project cost.

For more information on the TRiO Student Support Services, visit the program’s website at apsu.edu/SSS.