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Student Support Services receives five-year grant extension

Students tutoring

JOHNSON CITY (July 28) — East Tennessee State University’s TRIO was awarded $1,461,700 by the U.S. Department of Education for the 2016-2021 academic years to continue funding Student Support Services.

TRIO programs were established nationally under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to assist eligible students in successfully completing a college degree by helping them overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.

Under the auspices of TRIO, Student Support Services helps income-eligible, disabled and first-generation college students stay in college until they earn their baccalaureate degrees. Nationally, students are being served through these programs at 968 colleges and universities.

The ETSU Student Support Services program originated in 1976, and, according to Dr. Ronnie Gross, director of ETSU’s TRIO programs, “It has shown remarkable success. The retention rate of first-time freshmen entering in 2013 and returning the next fall was 86 percent. The graduation rate of first-time freshmen who entered ETSU in 2009 was 60 percent.”

Gross adds, “ETSU, with nine individual programs, has the largest TRIO operation in the state, and perhaps in the entire Southeast. We serve 2,240 students through our many programs. Nationally, only a handful of schools offer nine or more programs.”

The grant enables ETSU’s program to serve 225 students who are from low-income families or are the first in their families to attend college.  Eligible students receive peer tutoring and academic coaching; peer career coaching; mentoring; education panel sessions; academic, career and personal counseling; and college survival skills.

The goal is to help students navigate the mechanics of entering college and making career decisions. An important step in the process is individual tutoring to guide students through the general education core classes.

Student Support Services has two components: NEXUS and FOXUS.

NEXUS is designed to help traditional-aged freshmen as they adjust to ETSU. NEXUS recognizes the unique qualities of each individual while incorporating the common concerns every new college student experiences.

FOCUS is designed to help sophomores, juniors, seniors, transfer students and nontraditional freshmen make career decisions, succeed academically and stay focused on the goal of earning a college degree. Services for eligible students include career, personal and academic counseling, job shadowing, mentoring, individual peer tutoring and academic coaching, peer career coaching, personality assessments, résumé assistance and graduate school entrance exam preparation.

For further information, contact Gross at 423-439-4002 or

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