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ADA – The U.S. Department of Education announced that East Central University is set to receive a federal Student Support Services grant in excess of $1.3 million over the next five years to help students succeed in, and graduate from, college.

Dannie Patton, director of ECU’s Student Support Services program, shared the announcement with campus earlier in the week. Patton said ECU would receive $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 Student Support Services program brings to campus,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “It is a vital resource for students who need it. We are also grateful for the program’s kind and caring staff members who provide assistance to students, helping them navigate higher education and become successful ECU graduates.”

ECU’s Student Support Services program helps low-income and first-generation students, as well as students with disabilities. The $1.3 million 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 students will graduate with the lowest possible debt. The grant could not have arrived at a better time.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keeps promising students from succeeding in college,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education, in a national news release about the recent grant awards. “Student Support Services is needed 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 disadvantaged college students succeed. The program has been a fixture on the ECU campus since 1972.


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