U.S. Department of Ed awards PCC $1.27 million to guide under-served students to success
Thanks to a $1.27 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Portland Community College’s TRIO Student Support Services Program can now serve more under-represented students and guide them to success.
Based at the Cascade Campus in North Portland, the college’s TRIO program is designed to identify and provide services for individuals who are low-income, first-generation college students, or individuals with disabilities. Staff support these students through the academic pipeline, from their first year in college to post-baccalaureate programs.
“Our students face significant challenges, including inadequate preparation for college, lack of peer support and educational role models, and difficulty navigating the complexity of financial aid and the registration process,” said TRIO Program Director Dr. General C. Johnson. “These problems can have a devastating impact on their persistence, academic standing, graduation, and transfer rates. SSS-eligible students are in critical need of student support services to achieve their educational goals.”
The Cascade Campus serves 11,627 degree-seeking students in a racially diverse, historically African American neighborhood. Sixty-three percent identify as low-income, first generation students or have disabilities. More than 3,700 of these students have a need for academic support like PCC’s TRIO program, which has served nearly 600 students since 2010 and has a graduation rate of 37% since 2015.
At PCC, fewer than half (42%) of college students eligible for the Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) return each year, and more than one third are in poor academic standing. After three years of college, just 16% graduate with an associate degree and nine percent graduate and transfer successfully to a four-year institution.
The grant funding will allow 450 more students in the next five years to be served by Dr. Johnson’s program. The goal is to have 75% of the students persist in their studies from year to year and 75% to remain in good academic standing. Of the new participants from this grant, 30 percent will graduate with an associate degree within three years, and 20% will transfer with a degree within three years.
PCC’s TRIO Program will achieve these goals by providing a comprehensive suite of services. This includes:
- Intensive academic advising, tutoring and monitoring.
- Financial aid and scholarship assistance.
- Exclusive student success courses.
- Career exploration.
- Financial literacy and planning.
- Peer tutoring and cultural enrichment activities.
For more than 50 years, the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Support Services Program has provided a broad range of services to help students succeed. The SSS grant program began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keep promising students from succeeding in college,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the nonprofit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C. “Student Support Services is needed now more than ever.”