The U.S. Department of Education is awarding nearly one and a half million dollars to a program that assists students at Northern State University. The TRIO Student Support Services Grant funds programs for those who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree, meet income qualifications, or have a documented disability.
The $1.4 million grant is awarded over a five year period. Laci Hettick directs TRIO Student Support Services at NSU. She says the goal is to increase retention and graduation rates for the 165 students who participate in the program each year. She says TRIO provides a community of support.
“So as soon as they set foot on campus they’re greeted by their academic advisors who can help them with career planning, and to a certain extent help with personal matters,” Hettick says. “We also have residential peer mentors for our students, so if they’re living in the residence halls they have that peer support. And then we provide academic services, like tutoring and financial aid literacy.”
The grant funds current services. Hettick says she also wants to focus on expanding career and graduate school planning, and influencing non-cognitive factors for participants. That means taking a look at students’ skills, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and strategies as they relate to academic performance.
“Well we’ll have certain assessments in place to help identify students’ strengths,” Hettick says. “Then taking that, breaking it down, they’ll be working with academic advisors. And how can we use these things to help you with your course work, being involved in certain activities? Also, what do your values and interests say about maybe potential careers that you might look into? What majors that NSU offers align with some of those non-cognitive factors as well?”
Hettick says students can also earn financial assistance by participating in the program.