With the awarding of four new grants by the United States Department of Education, Bevill State Community College now offers its students assistance through the College’s Student Support Services (SSS) projects on each of its four campuses.
One of the four awards funded in August, is a new SSS project focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Health Science related fields. This new project will provide $1.1 million over the next five years to serve 140 SSS participants on the Hamilton Campus who are pursuing degrees in the STEM/Health Science fields who meet the same low-income, potential first-generation college student requirements as participants in the existing SSS programs. The new SSS project joins three established SSS projects on the College’s other campuses.
According to the College’s Federal Programs Coordinator, Wanda Jackson, the goal of SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants. Project participants in SSS must meet income guidelines provided by the Department of Education and come from families where neither parent has achieved a four-year college degree. The SSS projects provide academic development through group and one-on-one tutoring, study skills development, research assistance and time management activities. Assistance is also provided for completion of financial aid and scholarship paperwork. Advice and assistance is provided for postsecondary course selection, degree planning, and help is provided to those students transferring to four-year colleges or universities. Financial literacy education and counseling are provided to assist students in managing their money and their credit while in college and beyond.
“The financial literacy component of the programs helps our participants be more aware of financial pitfalls and financial opportunities, and gives them valuable information to make educated financial decisions,” said Jackson. “The SSS projects also serve a component of students who might otherwise fall through the cracks. So many need the support, encouragement and assistance of SSS just to stay in school. For many participants, SSS is their only support system, their educational lifeline.”
Each SSS project provides a grant award program through the project funding. This program is called Grant Aid, and allows each SSS project to provide a monetary award to students already receiving Pell grant funds in order to assist them with other necessary expenses. This grant award is given each spring semester to SSS participants who meet certain eligibility requirements and have participated in project-sponsored activities. Students may elect to use these funds to pay for summer classes, books, transportation expenses, childcare, or other necessary expenses. These grant awards often provide students the financial means to stay in school and complete their program of study.
In addition to this monetary award and the other services mentioned, the SSS project also helps engage students in the college-going experience by providing information and opportunities for on-campus activities and events, clubs, and community service opportunities. Engagement in these activities fosters a sense of belonging, which is proven to increase retention.
“Now that SSS is located on each campus, we have an opportunity to reach more of our students and provide more opportunities for academic, cultural and financial enrichment. The employees of SSS on each campus are willing to assist participants with all stages of their educational journey at Bevill State from completing their financial aid and scholarship information, to helping students reach their academic goals at Bevill, to helping them seek the right transfer institution, then assisting them with college transfer applications. We can also notify the SSS project at the transfer institution a student may choose to let them know of their transfer status, allowing for a smoother transition. Other services provided include assisting participants with resume’ writing and interview skills. These are skills that may help our participants with getting into a transfer institution or help in their job search later on,” said Jackson.
College-wide, 580 students are served by our SSS projects annually. The four projects employ eleven full-time staff members. A part-time Success Coach and several tutors are located at each campus location.
For more information about the Student Support Services projects available at Bevill State Community College, contact Wanda Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.