FORT KENT, Maine — The University of Maine at Fort Kent has received a slight increase in federal grant funding to provide ongoing services to assist low-income, first-generation, and students with disabilities succeed in college.
U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins announced in a joint statement on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Education has awarded $297,400 in grant funding to UMFK under the department’s Student Support Services program. The program provides academic and other support services to educational institutions to assist low-income and first-generation students, as will as those with disabilities, to increase their retention and graduation rates.
SSS is one of the federal TRIO programs, which are outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide support for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“This award will fund us for the next five years,” Lena Michaud, director of student support services at UMFK, said Wednesday. “We are getting $297,400 each year for the next five years, and the funding is up approximately three percent over our last award.”
Michaud said that students qualify for support services by meeting guidelines determined by the federal DOE. At UMFK, program staffers focus on ensuring that students in the program have a realistic chance of graduating. The program offers services to enhance students’ academic success, personal and social skills, giving participants access to tutors, financial aid, career counseling and various workshops. A laptop loan program also is available to students in the program.
“We are allowed to work with 160 students a year,” said Michaud. “And we still have a waiting list. We were happy to receive this funding to continue helping students.”
Snowe and Collins said in a joint statement that they have been ardent supporters of TRIO programs.
“TRIO programs truly help open the door to the American dream,” the senators said. “They help our students break through the social and cultural barriers that often prevent low-income or first-generation students from accessing a college education. This critical funding will help more Maine students attend college and receive the education they require to pursue their dreams.”