WILLMAR — Ridgewater College has received a five-year, $1.37 million extension of a federal grant for TRIO Student Support Services.
The U.S. Department of Education grant will be used by TRIO to work with low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities. The grant is 3.5% higher than the program’s last grant.
TRIO has worked with students at Ridgewater campuses in Willmar and Hutchinson for 15 years.
The program assists approximately 175 students each year. Support ranges from helping with course selection and completing scholarship and financial aid applications, to career and academic mentoring, transfer planning, and other assistance.
TRIO’s support helps students complete their associate-level degrees at Ridgewater College and, for some, plan next steps toward bachelor’s degrees.
“We are very pleased to continue to provide needed services at the Hutchinson and Willmar campuses of Ridgewater College for another five years,” Thomas Tie, Ridgewater director of TRIO-SSS, said in a press release. “These services improve academic success and increase the likelihood that students will graduate or transfer with confidence and with as little debt as possible.”
Tie said in the statement that transfer assistance is an important part of TRIO’s assistance. TRIO takes students on four-year institutional tours. They often meet with students in their majors to learn more about the school and its requirements.
The pandemic has heightened the need for TRIO and other student support services, according to Ridgewater’s statement.
Physical visits to universities are suspended, but TRIO has offered virtual support and offered support for students navigating online learning.
Tie said he was proud of TRIO’s success.
For the 2018-2019 school year, according to the most recent data available, 87% of program participants returned in fall 2019 or graduated, and 85% were doing well academically in college.