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ADA – The U.S. Department of Education announced that East Central University has received a Veterans Student Support Services grant to help more student-veterans succeed in, and graduate from, college.

Jill Williamson, director of the University’s Veterans Student Support Services program, said ECU will receive a total of just over $1.3 million at the rate of $261,888 per year for the next five years beginning September 1. The grant sunsets on August 31, 2025.

“We are grateful for everything the Veterans Student Support Services program provides our campus,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “We are proud of our veterans pursuing their degrees at ECU and we want to do all we can to help them become successful graduates.”

The Veterans Student Support Services grant was originally awarded to ECU in 2015. That grant cycle marked the first time institutions were allowed to submit applications specifically for the veteran population, and ECU received one of only 14 grants across the entire nation that year.

ECU’s Veterans Student Support Services program helps low-income and first-generation student-veterans, as well as student-veterans with disabilities. The federal grant allows the program to facilitate academic tutoring, financial aid counseling, career and college mentoring, assistance in choosing appropriate academic courses, and many other services.

These comprehensive services enhance academic success and make it more likely student-veterans will graduate with the lowest possible debt. It could not have arrived at a better time.

“Living in a rural part of the country and trying to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic has been a real challenge for all of us,” Williamson said. “Our student-veterans, who have sacrificed for our country, need this assistance now more than ever.”

The Student Support Services program originated in 1968 and represents one of eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help challenged college students succeed. As noted above, veteran-specific grants have only been funded since 2015.


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