SC State University Secures $1.2 Million to Continue Student Support Services Program

Monday, November 1, 2010

SC State University’s Student Support Services Program will receive $1.2 million over five years to assist primarily first-generation, low-income students, according to Terrence M. Cummings, executive director for SC State’s Student Success and Retention Program.  “The irony of this funding is that the grant was uploaded to the U.S. Department of Education on graduation day in December 2009.  This speaks to what Student Support Services purports to do – provide access and opportunity for first-generation, low-income students who have the motivation to succeed and persist to graduation.”  Student Support Services is referred to as a TRIO program, which identifies and provides services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and “helps the overall University retention and graduation rates,” Cummings said.

Barbara A. Jefferson, Student Services director, agrees stating, “The success of Student Support Services is that with these federal dollars, SC State is able to provide a number of intrusive services and strategies that increase overall student persistence.”

TRIO Programs began with Upward Bound, which emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the administration's War on Poverty. In 1965, Talent Search, the second outreach program, was created as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services, which was originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments and became the third in a series of educational opportunity programs. By the late 1960s, the term "TRIO" was coined to describe these federal programs.  Today, TRIO Programs also include Educational Opportunity Centers, the Training Program for Federal TRIO Programs, Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program and Upward Bound Math/Science Program.

In 2008, SC State’s TRIO proposal development team was established and consisted of Cummings, Jefferson and Dr. Carl E. Jones, assistant vice president for Academic Success and Retention Programs. In 2008, Jefferson became director of Student Support Services and was charged to increase program accountability, as well as increase the persistence rate of eligible students.  “Since that time, Ms. Jefferson has worked admirably and untiringly to ensure program accountability and the success of program participants,” says Cummings.

“SC State may serve 160 federally eligible students,” notes Jefferson.  “Two-thirds of the Student Support Services participants must be first-generation and low-income college students.  Another one-third may be first-generation, low-income or disabled college students.  By federal definition, first-generation college students are those whose parents did not complete a four- year baccalaureate degree, and low-income means the family’s taxable income does not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level.” 

Among the services available through Student Support Services include academic, career and personal counseling, tutorial services, supplemental instruction through a mini-laboratory, cultural trips, college paraphernalia, assistance in enrolling postgraduate studies, workshops on financial literacy, learning styles, time management and other strategies for success.  All of the services are free to federally eligible participants. 

For additional information about the Student Support Services Program, contact Barbara A. Jefferson at (803) 516-4529, or e-mail