UAB awarded $5 million grant from U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO Student Support Services

UAB’s TRIO Student Support Services will receive a $5 million grant to help students increase academic success.
Written by: Karen Templeton
Media Contact: Yvonne Taunton

Mass of students walking on sidewalk in front of the Hill Student Center on August 28, 2019.UAB’s TRIO Student Support Services receives $5 Million grant to help students increase academic success. The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the University of Alabama at Birmingham will receive three highly competitive federal TRIO Student Support Services grants of $5 million to help 460 students annually. 

Student Support Services is a national program developed in 1968. It is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. UAB gained its first SSS program under the direction of Betty Duff in 1976, and the program has been continually funded since then. 

SSS helps college students who have limited income and are first generation or students with disabilities. The grants will provide an array of comprehensive services, including academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, and help in choosing courses. Such services enhance academic success and make it more likely that students will graduate with the lowest possible debt.  

“As a result of COVID-19, our SSS are even more vital to the vulnerable students we serve,” said Tracy Lyons, Ph.D., executive director of UAB Undergraduate Student Success and Retention. “We are honored to receive these highly competitive grants and are ready to use these new resources to help our students succeed.”

In 2015, UAB was awarded an SSS grant for STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — and health care majors and an additional grant to serve education majors. Shawanda Benjamin, director for TRIO programs at UAB, says the resources and support provided through the grants have directly helped students graduate successfully.

“It is an honor to be a part of the SSS project and see firsthand how our eligible students benefit,” Benjamin said. “I am grateful for everyone involved in our continued success and look forward to seeing what more our students can achieve.” 

The other three federally funded TRIO programs at UAB include two Classic Upward Bound grants and the McNair Scholars Program.

“UAB’s TRIO programs are instrumental in providing crucial student support,” said UAB Provost Pam Benoit. “It is encouraging to receive this high level of competitive funding to sustain, grow and deliver the programming. I’m grateful to the Undergraduate Student Success and Retention team for being so proactive in ensuring good resources for UAB students.”