HANCOCK - Some students need a little extra help getting through college, and one program offered by Finlandia University is intended to do that.
Rob McTaggart, Finlandia director of TRiO Student Support Services, said TRiO was created from the 1965 federal Higher Education Act, which originally offered three programs - Student Support Services, Upward Bound and the Education Talent Search. More programs have been added since 1965 by Congress.
Student Support Services is funded for the 2010-11 school year by a $295,767 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and McTaggart said that amount will help 180 Finlandia students.
The government wants the university to assist 180 students each year, McTaggart said, and finding that many eligible this year, as with previous years, won't be a problem.
"This year we have a bumper crop of freshmen," he said. "The big influx is just a general trend for us this year."
McTaggart said this school year, 120 students receiving the assistance are returning students and 60 are new in the program.
The Student Support Services program offers academic and personal counseling, tutoring, career assistance, financial literacy education and other services to students who meet criteria of low income, physical or learning disability or are first generation four-year degree students from their families.
"What we try to do is offer an extra layer of support for at-risk students," he said.
Students interested in the TRiO Student Support Services must first apply to U.S. DOE, McTaggart said. The successful applicants do a follow-up interview with Finlandia officials.
It's hoped students continue with Student Support Services as long as they attend Finlandia, McTaggart said.
"These programs are meant to take them from freshman year to graduation," he said.
McTaggart said the Student Support Services grant is competitive, and Finlandia has to reapply to be part of the program every four or five years.
The awards for Finlandia students for this school year have been assigned, McTaggart said, but other students can begin the process to be chosen for next school year in the spring.
McTaggart said his office works with the Finlandia admissions office to determine which students might be eligible for the Student Support Services program.
"We can tell right out of the gate which ones are low income or first generation," he said.
For more information about the Student Support Services program at Finlandia University, call 487-7296.