New WSU Program Helps Eliminate Barriers to Success

PULLMAN, Wash. — Earning a college education isn’t a breeze for most students, but for first-generation, low-income and disabled students it can be especially challenging.

Student Support Services, a new program at Washington State University, aims to help these students be more successful by providing financial-aid assistance, academic advising, tutoring, cultural enrichment activities and workshops on academic success, among other services.

The program focuses on disabled students, those whose parents did not attend college and low-income students because these groups are typically at risk for not succeeding at as high a rate as other students. Many do not succeed because of family obligations, loneliness, isolation or lack of financial resources, said Lucila Loera, the program’s director.

“We want to target all of these issues that we recognize as barriers to success,” she said. “We plan to provide comprehensive services and stay with these students throughout their educational career.”

One goal is to retain at least 70 percent of the students in their academic programs, Loera said. She is recruiting WSU students from all classes, limited to 160 students.

The program is funded by a $190,000, four-year federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It is one of seven federal TRIO programs expanding educational opportunities throughout the United States and will join another at WSU, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair program helps prepare low-income and first-generation students as well as underrepresented minority undergraduates for graduate education.

The TRIO programs are intended to work together to help students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education. By pursuing TRIO program funding, WSU is reaffirming its commitment to underrepresented student populations, Loera said. Students must apply and be accepted to participate in either program.

For more information, contact Loera at 509/335-7944.