Federal Grant Will Benefit Tech Students

Arkansas Tech University has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will allow the institution to offer extra support to students who need a helping hand in persisting to graduation.

The Student Support Services (SSS) grant is for $220,000 per year for four years. The SSS program falls under the umbrella of TRIO, an initiative enacted by the federal government in 1965 to overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education. The funds will allow Arkansas Tech to provide specialized services to current students who are first-generation college students from low-income families and current students who have disabilities evidencing academic need. “On behalf of our students, my faculty colleagues and the Board of Trustees, it is my privilege to express our gratitude to U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their efforts to secure these funds,” said Tech President Dr. Robert C. Brown. “It is our responsibility to make every reasonable effort to aid our students in their efforts to obtain a degree. This grant will allow us to reach students who face a particular set of challenges and help them realize the life-changing benefits of a baccalaureate degree.” The TRIO grant will fund three new positions at Arkansas Tech. Those individuals will be responsible for ensuring that the 140 Tech students selected for the program have access to the academic tutoring and advising, financial aid information, personal counseling, information about applying for graduate and professional schools and career services that they need to succeed. Program participants will also be exposed to field trips and other cultural experiences that they might not otherwise have access to. “In addition to making college more affordable for Arkansans and all Americans, it is also critical that we provide students with the tools they need to be successful in reaching their educational goals,” said Sen. Lincoln. “A greater investment in TRIO programs is a tremendous investment in the young men and women working hard to earn an education that will secure their own economic stability and increase our nation’s overall productivity. That is why I have fought hard for increased funding for these supportive services at schools in Arkansas. In an increasingly competitive job market and a struggling economy, higher education gives our students the competitive edge they need to succeed.” Dr. David Underwood, associate vice president for academic affairs at Arkansas Tech, was responsible for writing the grant on behalf of the university. “It will be almost like having a case worker assigned to the students enrolled in the program,” said Underwood. “Our personnel will stay in contact with the students and provide them with supplemental services above and beyond the many services that are already available on our campus.”

Underwood said that the university hopes to have the Student Support Services personnel in place by October and begin enrolling students in November. “We have students right here, right now who need this kind of assistance,” said Underwood. “We don’t want to waste any time.” Current Arkansas Tech students who are interested in gaining more information about applying for the program are asked to send e-mail to sss@atu.edu. “College can open doors, put students on a path to success, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness, but first we must help students overcome any unique challenges that can stand in the way,” said Sen. Pryor. “These funds will help provide students with financial aid counseling, tutoring, and career guidance to ensure they receive the support they need to reach their full potential.”