Federal student support program receives five years of funding

First-generation or low-income Iowa State undergraduates or those with a disability will continue to benefit from academic, financial literacy and mentoring guidance designed to help them stay in school and complete their degrees. Student Support Services (SSS), a grant-funded program at Iowa State since 1980, has been renewed by the U.S. Department of Education. The latest grant is $1.97 million over five years.

Student Support Services

210 Student Services Building

Director Robert Lipsey said the program serves 250 students each year with academic tutoring, math and reading/writing instruction, financial literacy, financial aid/scholarship applications, academic advising and career planning. It also pairs first-time and returning participants for peer mentoring and assists with "next step" efforts -- either helping community college transfer students acclimate to Iowa State or undergraduates make plans for graduate or professional school. The staff includes two assistant directors, an administrative assistant and six part-time student positions. And while there's less face-to-face time with students and more virtual sessions than normal this fall due to the pandemic, Lipsey said his staff are making connections and interacting regularly with students.

"Iowa State is a great partner for our services. Academic advisers and faculty know about our program and the supportive community we have and send us referrals," he said.

Lipsey said the undergraduates he and his team serve often are familiar with some of the eight U.S. Department of Education TRIO programs from their high school or a community college. Or perhaps SSS helped a sibling or cousin at Iowa State or another school.

"We're fortunate that we don't have to do much recruiting. They know about Student Support Services, they're familiar with that community-building environment and they seek us out," Lipsey said.

Student Support Services is one of four TRIO programs Iowa State offers. Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search focus on students in grades 6-12 from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide programming to help them complete high school and enroll in a college or university. The McNair Program prepares first-generation, low income and underrepresented ISU undergraduates for doctoral programs.