SUNY Old Westbury Earns $1.3 million TRIO Grant to Promote Student Retention, Graduation

The State University of New York at Old Westbury was awarded a $1.3 million five-year federal grant to boost retention and graduation rates among students from low-income backgrounds, those who are first-generation college students, and people with disabilities.

SUNY Old Westbury was awarded the grant by the U.S. Department of Education through the TRIO Student Support Services program. Beginning with the current year, the grant for the first year is $261,888, while the remaining funds will be distributed over the following four years.

The TRIO Student Support Services program offers funding to institutions of higher education for personal and academic support meant to boost retention and graduation rates among students whose backgrounds affect negatively their ability to complete their studies. It includes academic and personal support services such as tutoring, academic advising, career counseling, mentorship, financial literacy and post-graduate preparation.

“Receiving this grant is evidence of our commitment to supporting all of our students from admission through graduation,” said Teresa A. Miller, officer-in-charge. “This grant will allow us to annually provide approximately 140 eligible students with a continuum of support to address academic, personal, financial and social issues that impact their performance.”

Of the approximately 4,700 undergraduate students enrolled at the College, more than half meet the income, first-in-family and/or disability-specific eligibility requires of the TRIO grant. On average, Old Westbury students with these characteristics fall below institutional rates in retention and graduation as well as in their post-baccalaureate pursuits. Additionally, students eligible for the program fall below institutional rates in number of credits completed each semester and cumulative GPA.

Through the grant, SUNY Old Westbury will provide personalized support and intervention for participants selected for the program. This will include academic, financial, personal and career counseling. The program is designed to improve collaboration between education providers and employers to ensure alignment of knowledge and skills and to support instruction in personal financial literacy. Success in these areas will come by incorporating internships in in-demand sectors and additional financial literacy activities.

“By boosting support in these areas, the goal is to remove the academic, social and financial barriers that can negatively affect rates of persistence and graduation,” said Dr. Cristina Notaro, assistant dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and the principal investigator under the grant. “At the same time, we will be linking participating students with real-world opportunities that can serve as further motivation for them to complete their studies and that may offer them tangible opportunities after they graduate.”

The TRIO grant is the latest funding received to support student success initiatives at SUNY Old Westbury. Last fall, the College earned $2 million in support from the U.S. Department of Education through the Title III: Strengthening Institutions grant program. This funding continues to support peer tutoring, proactive advising, support for the faculty-focused Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and, importantly, an expansion of initiatives developed at the College to improve sophomore retention.