South Central College (SCC) has received its third TRIO Student Support Services grant from the U.S. Department of Education.  The five-year $1,309,440 grant provides $261,888 each year for SCC to offer individualized services that assist 140 underrepresented students each year. These underrepresented students include first generation college students, those who meet certain income requirements and students with a disability.

“TRIO is such an important program for our college and is a guidepost for what we can do with our student success initiatives, said SCC President Annette Parker. The students who experience our TRIO program are prepared for and achieve success, and for that we are forever grateful.”

The college received its first five-year TRIO grant in 2010 and another in 2015. This period for the new five-year grant runs from September 2020 - August 2025.

Statistics testify to the TRIO program’s impact on student success. In the 2019-20 academic year, 99% of students enrolled in the TRIO program were in good academic standing, comparted to 77% of students who could have participated, but chose not to.  In addition, 96% of the 2019-2020 students who had not yet graduated stayed in school and are attending SCC this fall as opposed to only 58% for TRIO eligible students who opted not to join the program.

“TRIO is like having your favorite aunt or uncle on campus – someone you can turn to at any time for advice or to help point you in the right direction,” said SCC TRIO Director Linda Leech.  “Having this support system can help students navigate the sometimes intimidating higher education waters.” 

The program’s participants agree that TRIO’s holistic approach makes a significant difference. “TRIO has helped guide me through my education, personal, career and financial endeavors. Without TRIO I would not be where I am today, fulfilling my dreams by graduating in December with my Professional Nursing degree,” said 23-year-old Chelsea Mariner, who plans to pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing while working in the field. She qualified for the TRIO program as a first generation college student and for having a learning disability. Mariner is active in college activities, currently serving in leadership roles for three different student organizations at SCC’s Faribault campus.

TRIO serves students from a variety of backgrounds and at different stages of life. “TRIO has helped me stay on task with making sure I’m signing up for my classes on time and making sure I’m signing up for the correct classes,” said Robert Landgren, 38, a first generation college student who is currently pursuing his Associate of Arts degree at SCC’s North Mankato campus. “TRIO’s really helped me with my time management to balance my full-time work schedule plus my full-time school schedule and having a family life.”