AUBURN — Central Maine Community College has been awarded over $290,000 in grant funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Support Services Program. The award was announced recently by senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The purpose of the Student Support Services Program is to provide academic and other support services to low-income, first-generation or disabled college students to increase student retention and graduation rates, facilitate their transfer from two-year to four-year colleges and foster an institutional climate supportive of the success of low-income and first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities.

It is an annual award that is expected to be renewed for the next five years for a total value of more than $1 million. The grant will continue to fund the TRiO Student Support Services program at the college which has been in operation for 13 years. The program provides a variety of services for academically under-prepared students meeting specific eligibility requirements. Services include academic advising, transfer advising, tutoring, cultural activities and workshops and programs for study skills and time management.

“Low-income and first-generation students who participate in TRiO are more likely to complete their degree than those who don’t,” said Mary Fraser, director of the program at CMCC. “If Maine’s economic success depends on an educated workforce, programs like TRiO that help students who may not otherwise complete higher education are more important than ever. The benefits of this funding will reach beyond the students we help this year to affect the region and the state in the long term.”

The TRiO programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address the serious social and cultural barriers to education in America, according to the Council for Opportunity in Education website.

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