Lincoln, Pryor, Berry Announce $2.2M for Arkansas’s First-Generation, Low-Income College Students in Northeast Arkansas

Washington – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and U.S. Representative Marion Berry (AR-01today announced that eight Northeast Arkansas colleges and universities will receive a total of $2,222,357 in U.S. Department of Education grants to fund Student Support Services programs, which provide academic and other support services to low-income, first-generation or disabled college students to help them stay in school, graduate and achieve academic success.

 Student Support Services is one of eight TRIO programs within the Department of Education that are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. In Arkansas, 23,132 students were served by 78 different TRIO projects in academic year 2008-09. 

Student Support Services may encompass activities such as helping students gain basic study skills; tutoring; academic, financial or personal counseling; assistance to students hoping to gain admission and financial aid at a four-year institution, graduate school, or other professional program; career counseling and mentoring and special services for students with limited English proficiency.

“In addition to making college more affordable for Arkansans and all Americans, it is also critical that we provide students with the tools they need to be successful in reaching their educational goals,” Lincoln said. “A greater investment in TRIO programs is a tremendous investment in the young men and women working hard to earn an education that will secure their own economic stability and increase our nation’s overall productivity. That is why I have fought hard for increased funding for these supportive services at schools in Arkansas. In an increasingly competitive job market and a struggling economy, higher education gives our students the competitive edge they need to succeed.”

“College can open doors, put students on a path to success, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness, but first we must help students overcome any unique challenges that can stand in the way,” Pryor said. “These funds will help provide students with financial aid counseling, tutoring, and career guidance to ensure they receive the support they need to reach their full potential.”

“Any strong economy relies on the strength of its workforce to propel innovation, technology, and businesses forward to remain competitive with the rest of the world,” Berry said. “If we don’t anticipate the skilled-labor demands of our growing economy, we are putting a cap on our future potential as a nation. Funding the education of the next generation ensures we are taking the long view on our economic health and is ultimately an investment that pays for itself.”

Student Support Services is one of the largest and most expansive programs promoting enrollment for low-income college students. By expanding SSS, Congress can address the unmet needs of these students and help ensure that they graduate from college. Given that SSS is a vital element of student aid for low-income college students, such support will also shore up the nation’s significant investments in the Pell Grant program as SSS students are almost always Pell Grant recipients. In Arkansas, SSS worked with 5,460 students through 26 projects in academic year 2008-09. 

The following Arkansas colleges and universities received awards:

First District:

Mid-South Community College (West Memphis) – $290,495

Ozarka College (Melbourne) – $287,328

University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville – $220,000

Arkansas State University (Jonesboro) – $276,019

East Arkansas Community College (Forrest City) – $313,239

Arkansas Northeastern College (Blytheville) – $290,517

Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (Helena-West Helena) – $324,759

Arkansas State University-Heber Springs – $220,000