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College’s Successful Support Program Posts Strong Results, Gains Funding

SUNY Plattsburgh’s program that supports first-generation, low-income and disabled students’ academic and emotional well-being surpassed federal guidelines, garnering the potential for an increase in funding over the next five years.

Student Support Services, part of the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO Programs, “is mainly an academic support program on campus, but students get much broader support in terms of making sure they have appropriate housing and financial resources, as well as emotional and mental health support,” said Bryan Hartman, vice president for student affairs.

Hartman credited Dr. Michele Carpentier, director of the program on campus, and her staff for the continued success of Plattsburgh’s Student Support Services.

“They work tirelessly with our students,” he said.

Surpasses Criteria

Federal funding for Student Support Services is on target to be in excess of $2.7 million over the five years of the grant, about a 6 percent increase over prior years. This will enable more students to get services, including tutoring, extended-time testing, and assistance with notetaking, services that enable them to succeed and graduate and pursue a career.

SUNY Plattsburgh’s results, based on federally approved rates in three areas, exceeded the bar in each of the areas: persistence; good academic standing; and bachelor degrees attained. The college returned rates of 91 percent on persistence, which means fall-to-fall enrollment; 93 percent for good academic standing, which means students maintain a 2.0 gpa or better; and 67 percent for bachelor degrees attained, calculated on six years from first date of enrollment.

By comparison, the Department of Education rates for SUNY Plattsburgh are 80 percent persistence; 90 percent academic achievement; and 52 percent bachelor’s degree.

“We must meet or surpass the approved rate in order to continue the grant,” Carpentier said. “We’re thrilled. We always have good numbers, but with changes in student demographics, we’re always working to maintain our numbers. A reviewer said when I wrote the grant that there was no way we could achieve a 52-percent graduation rate. We didn’t; we’re doing 67 percent.”

Critical Program

“Initially there was talk about cutting funding to these programs, which would have been devastating,” Hartman said. “Student Support Services is a critical program for our students.”

Plattsburgh TRIO programs, which also includes Upward Bound, serve about 400 college students and more than 150 regional high school students, respectively.

“We have a staff that does this out of sheer love for the students,” Carpentier said. “These are people who are willing to go above and beyond on a routine basis. We believe in our student and their abilities. This staff is committed to a greater level of support. This encourages them to do better, and they wind up not wanting to disappoint us. They start believing in themselves.”

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