The U.S. Department of Education announced that Northern Maine Community College will receive a federal TRIO/Student Support Services (SSS) grant of $294,722 to help more students succeed in and graduate from college. NMCC first received this grant in 2001, making this the beginning of the 20th year with this funding; the program has directly impacted over 2,000 NMCC students during that time.

SSS helps college students who are low-income, first-generation (those whose parents do not have a four-year college degree) or students with disabilities. The array of services the grant will provide are comprehensive and will include academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help in choosing courses, and other forms of assistance. Such services enhance academic success and make it more likely that students will graduate or transfer with the lowest possible debt. Many Student Support Services alumni have gone on to great success, among them Emmy, Tony and Academy-Award winning actress Viola Davis, U.S. Rep. Gwendolyn Moore of Wisconsin’s 4th District and Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic astronaut.

SSS began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success; it bolsters students from low income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had, and helps students with disabilities remove obstacles preventing them from thriving academically.

“We collect all sorts of data on the number of students this grant has supported — graduation rates, transfer rates, rates of employment, GPA’s, etc. — but what we can’t calculate are the hidden benefits: the increased job security that a college degree provides, the pride in knowing they accomplished something, or the knowledge passed on to people the student interacts with,” said NMCC Director of SSS Tammy Nelson. “Those achievements are harder to measure, but we see them every day in our community. Those immeasurable results give us great satisfaction and the motivation to continue to do what we do best. ‘TRIO works’ is the slogan we use, and it’s true.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keep promising students from succeeding in college. Student Support Services is needed now more than ever,” said Maureen Hoyler. Hoyler is the president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C., dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities.

For more than 50 years, the Student Support Services program has made important contributions to individuals and society as a whole by providing a broad range of services to help students succeed. This vital program can and does make all the difference. For more information about student opportunities at NMCC, please contact

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