Grays Harbor College receives $2.68 million federal grant for student services

The college will receive the funds over a five-year period, with $536,000 set for the 2020-21 academic year.

Grays Harbor College announced on Monday it will be receiving a $2.68 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue a program designed to help college students who are disabled or come from backgrounds that don’t include a college experience.

The college will receive the funds over a five-year period, with $536,000 set for the 2020-21 academic year.

The funds come from the federal TRiO program. TRiO isn’t an acronym, it’s a name derived from three programs that are now included in a larger program designed to help college students succeed.

TRiO has been in existence at Grays Harbor College since 2005, but funding was set to expire this month. This funding allows it to continue at GHC. It offers support and educational services to first-generation, income-eligible and/or students living with a disability. Some of the services offered include access to the textbook lending library, access to one-on-one tutoring, educational trips to four-year colleges, museums and industry tours as well as assigned student support specialists to assist qualifying students with anything from writing a scholarship essay to picking out classes.

According to the college’s website, the most important aspect of what TRiO does is help students through the process of college, teaching students “how to make it through college.” That might include guidance in how to transfer to a four-year college, apply for financial aid or long-term academic planning.

Students accepted to the program are assigned a student support specialist who helps guide them through the various processes of college life. Support specialists assist their students in multiple ways, including how to get textbooks from the school’s lending library, gaining access to tutoring, help with picking classes and offering specialized workshops (essay writing, financial literacy, study skills, etc.).

The college serves approximately 280 TRiO students with a department staff that features five full-time employees, two part-time employees and a host of tutors.

“GHC TRiO has been serving students since 2005 and will continue that service for the next five years as a result of the grant renewals,” said Jennifer Alt, the college’s vice president of student services.

According to Alt, TRiO students at GHC have a higher retention and graduation rate than non-TRiO students.

”We wouldn’t have been able to continue with the staffing that we have (without the grant),” she said. “The retention efforts and all the support these students are getting right now would have gone away.”

The five-year grant cycle for the previous TRiO grant ends this month, but with the recent grant approval Alt said there will be no disruptions in the program.

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