The U.S. Department of Education recently announced that Siena Heights University’s Student Support Services program was again fully refunded through 2015. The federal grant is valued at nearly $1.5 million over five years. The SSS program will serve approximately 160 SHU students each year.
“Our program serves about 25 percent of our full-time students here at Siena Heights, which is pretty significant,” said SHU’s SSS Director Michele Buku. “We are pleased to be able to continue to assist those students who are first-generation, low-income or have a documented disability.”
The primary goal of SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants. Buku said that happens at SHU in a variety of ways, including academic, financial aid and career advising, peer mentoring and a unique summer program for first-year SSS students, the Freshman Transition Scholars Program.
“We take them outside of their box,” Buku said of the summer program, which offers academic writing and grammar classes but also classes like salsa dancing and etiquette. “We also help them with their study skills, time management, library research skills and financial literacy. We show them what’s expected of them, and try to educate and have some fun at the same time. The summer program proves successful because of those SSS participants who graduate from SHU, 87 percent have attended FTSP.”
Through a grant competition, funds are awarded to institutions of higher education to provide opportunities for academic development, assist students with basic college requirements and motivate students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education.
“Having the Student Support Services program on our campus is vital to our mission of helping people become more competent, purposeful and ethical,” said SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD. “Our SSS program has had a long and successful tradition of educating and preparing students for the future. I congratulate Michele and her staff on their news of being refunded. We are pleased to be able to continue to offer educational opportunities to even more students.”
The TRiO program was established in the 1960s by then-President Lyndon Johnson. The SSS program was originally funded in 1970 by the U.S. Department of Education. Student Support Services was first awarded to Siena Heights College in 1979. There are currently eight federal TRiO programs, and Siena Heights has three on its campus. Besides the SSS program, Siena Heights also has the Ronald McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement and the Upward Bound programs.
“And that is unique for a small, private institution,” Buku said.
To learn more about the Student Support Services program at Siena Heights University, please click here.