Leveraging campus partnerships to reinforce help-seeking behaviors

Who should know about SSS?

Faculty have a unique opportunity to positively impact students’ lives both inside and outside of the classroom–now and in the future– by intentionally connecting them with key campus resources like TRIO Student Support Services. More than half of UAF’s undergraduate population qualifies for this program, though many eligible students have never even heard of it.

SSS is one of UAF’s primary systems of support for baccalaureate degree-seeking students who come from one or more of the following backgrounds:

  • A student who is the first in their family to attain a bachelor’s degree, meaning neither parent nor guardian achieved a 4-year college degree
  • A student who has limited financial resources, typically those receiving the Pell Grant via their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • AND/OR a student who experiences a documented disability

What is this program about?

Student Support Services is a federally funded TRIO program, and UAF is lucky to have two grants, totaling $536,831 annually, supporting more than 300 students. A team of seven advisors, one mental health counselor, one support staff and four student employees provide comprehensive advising, mentoring, mental health resources, and tutoring to program participants. SSS programs across the nation provide research-based programming and data-driven practices that have been vetted by the US Department of Education. Each year UAF’s SSS program is required to demonstrate that we are meeting our objectives which include ensuring good academic performance, persistence from year to year, and a 6-year graduation rate for students served. Students must apply to self-select into the program, though once an intake appointment has been completed, they are free to use our services until they graduate or transfer.

When should a student be connected?

A student should be encouraged to apply as early in their academic career as possible! Think of us as an academic insurance policy, have us in your back pocket so that help is just an email or phone call away—make sure your students get the very best out of their college experience! That being said, it’s never too late to apply; we provide differentiated services to first and second-year students, versus juniors and seniors.

Where can students access this program?

514 Gruening is where our physical office is located, but we also serve fully online students as well. Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, our services have shifted entirely into an online accessible format. Whether advising over Zoom, 24/7 access to virtual tutoring via tutor.com, or utilizing our TRIO Student Support Services Canvas page for financial aid resources—SSS services are now available and accessible to students taking CTL classes.

Why should we connect students to SSS?

Because it’s a free service that can greatly impact a student’s experience at UAF.

Students coming from SSS-eligible backgrounds who do not use our services graduate at less than half the rate of their peers who do use our program. This discrepancy is due to several reasons, including lack of: equitable access to financial resources and financial literacy; knowledge of university policies, dates, deadlines, exceptions, and appeal processes; advocacy on the part of a dedicated and consistent advisor, and so much more. Long story short: at SSS, we leverage our social and cultural capital to benefit the students we serve because our goals are the same: graduation and gainful employment.

How do I connect students with SSS or learn more?

Refer a student today! We’ll check their eligibility, all you have to do is fill out this form, and we’ll take it from there. Additionally you can click on this link which will take you to a Google folder with resources such as a syllabus blurb, a PowerPoint slide to include in your first class lecture, and much more.

Are you including a poll, contact info, meet up? If so, please include details below.

To learn more about SSS, please sign up for our weekly newsletter by emailing uaf-sss@alaska.edu or consider attending our National TRIO Day Celebration in the Wood Center Multi-Level Lounge on February 23rd from 12-2pm.

Victoria Smith

Victoria holds a MA in Arctic and Northern Studies with a focus on cultural history and higher education in Alaska. As a TRIO alumna with more than a decade of academic and professional experience in the field, she now directs UAF’s TRIO Student Support Services program, which serves more than 300 traditionally underrepresented and under-resourced students each year.

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