TRIO Student Support Services Program

The Student Support Services Program (SSS) is a federally funded TRIO program designed to support students from a wide variety of underrepresented backgrounds in their pursuit of higher education. 

What is TRIO?

TRIO programs originated with the Higher Education Act of 1965. Originally, there were three programs, hence the name TRIO. 

  • Special Services (later named Student Support Services) 
  • Upward Bound 
  • Educational Talent Search 

With later reauthorizations of the Higher Education Act, more programs were included under the TRIO umbrella, but the collective name remained TRIO. 

  • Educational Opportunity Center 
  • McNair Scholars Program 
  • Upward Bound Math/Science 
  • Veterans’ Upward Bound TRIO Training Program 

What Is the Purpose of TRIO?

According to Sec. 402A.20 of Federal Regulations, Congress authorized the U.S. Secretary of Education to… “Carry out a program of making grants and contracts designed to identify qualified individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, to prepare them for a program of postsecondary education, to provide support services for such students who are pursuing programs of postsecondary education, to motivate and prepare students for doctoral programs, and to train individuals serving or preparing for service in programs and projects so designed.” Because of this legislative language, all TRIO programs target: Low income individuals (according to Federal guidelines); potential first generation college students (student neither of whose parents graduated with a baccalaureate degree); and (SSS only) individuals with disabilities – physical, emotional, learning. 

What Are the Purposes of Student Support Services? 

  • Increase the retention and graduation rates of eligible students
  • Foster an institutional climate supportive of the success of low-income and first generation college students and individuals with disabilities 

Who Is Eligible to Participate in an SSS Program? 

  • Any student who is a citizen or national of the U.S. or meets the residency requirements for Federal student financial assistance
  • Is enrolled at the grantee institution or accepted for enrollment in the next academic term at that institution
  • Has a need for academic support, as determined by the grantee, in order to successfully pursue a postsecondary educational program; is low income, a first generation college student, or an individual with disabilities 

What Activities and Services May an SSS Project Provide? 

  • Instruction in reading, writing, study skills, mathematics, and other subjects necessary for success beyond secondary school
  • Personal counseling, academic advice and assistance in course selection
  • Tutoring services, counseling and peer counseling; exposure to cultural events and academic programs not usually available to disadvantaged students
  • Activities designed to acquaint students participating in the project with the range of career options available
  • Activities designed to secure admission and financial assistance for enrollment in graduate and professional programs
  • Activities designed to assist students currently enrolled in two-year institutions in securing admission and financial assistance for enrollment in a four-year program of postsecondary education
  • Mentoring programs involving faculty or upper class students, or any combination of faculty members and upper class students
  • Programs and activities as described that are specifically designed for students of limited English proficiency
  • Other activities designed to meet the purposes of the SSS program 

What the Project and Institution Must Do 

  • Minimum of 2/3 of program participants must be individuals with disabilities and/or low income, first generation college students
  • The other 1/3 of program participants must fall in one of the other categories
  • Minimum of 1/3 of individuals with disabilities also be low income
  • Determination by the institution that each participant has a need for academic support in order to successfully pursue a program of education beyond secondary school
  • Require that all participants be enrolled or accepted for enrollment at the institution awarded the grant; institution makes an effort to provide sufficient financial assistance to meet the full financial need of each student in the project and discourages student loans 

What Can SSS Not Do? 

Pay for remedial and special classes if…

  • These classes are otherwise available at the grantee institution
  • Not limited to eligible project participants
  • Project participants are charged tuition for classes
  • Pay for any activities that do not contribute to the participants’ academic, cultural, or personal development
  • Recruit students for enrollment at the institution
  • Pay tuition, fees, stipends, and other forms of direct financial support for staff or participants
  • Do research not directly related to the evaluation or improvement of the project
  • Do construction, renovation, or remodeling of any facilities 

Uniquely molded to each institution, institutions want SSS programs more than any other TRIO program. Direct benefits to institution; improve graduation, retention, and transfer rates. Valuable resource to faculty and staff of institution: can’t award grades but is a resource to supplement what faculty do in their classes.

Income Guidelines

View income guideline


TRIO Student Support Services