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Montana Tech's Institute for Educational Opportunities Awarded U.S. Department of Education Grant


July 21, 2015

Montana Tech's Institute for Educational Opportunities has been awarded a $1,100,000 TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education over the next five years to continue serving 120 of Montana Tech's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) students along with students in the healthcare fields.

Funding for the TRIO program nationally has been championed by a bipartisan group of U.S. congressmen and congresswomen, known as TRIO Caucus, which includes U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana.

“TRIO has given hard-working students the opportunity to attend college and be among the first ones in their family to graduate,” noted Senator Jon Tester. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee I proudly support TRIO so more students can get their degree, accomplish their goals, and increase their shot at success.”

TRIO SSS is one of eight Federal outreach and student services programs designed to strengthen financial literacy, and increase retention and post-secondary completion rates for individuals from households with parents who have not completed baccalaureate degrees (first generation), low-income and disabled students. TRIO serves students from middle school to post baccalaureate programs strengthening the academic pipeline at all levels.

Montana Tech's Student Support Services Program will provide the following services:

  • Academic tutoring focusing on gateway courses for STEM and healthcare disciplines.
  • Financial and economic literacy of students, the basics of financial planning for postsecondary education including information on state and federal financial aid opportunities with a focus on Federal Pell Grants and loan forgiveness, resources for locating public and private scholarships, and assistance in completing financial aid applications, including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • Activities designed to assist participants enrolled in four-year institutions of higher education in applying for admission to, and obtaining financial assistance for enrollment in, graduate and professional programs.

“The Institute for Educational Opportunities is excited to continue TRIO services at the collegiate level for Montana Tech,” explained RuthAnne Shope, Associate Director for Montana Tech’s Institute for Educational Opportunities. “Many individuals in our office are of first-generation and low-income backgrounds. Our daily work with students isn't a job, it's a passion, a career, and a lifestyle. Our services are tailored to the student’s needs on their path to success.”

"TRIO SSS is a great resource for students who may not feel comfortable expanding their peer group," stated Nathan Sutton, senior in General Engineering. "Coming from a small town, I grew up in a class where I knew everyone and felt comfortable asking those four or five people for help, leaving that environment and entering Montana Tech was intimidating at first. TRIO SSS made it a lot easier for a more reserved person to begin expanding their peer group and gaining confidence to ask for help in any group setting."

Robert Earhart quotes Conrad Hilton when asked about TRIO's impact on him, "Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they don't quit." Robert, a senior in Metallurgical Engineering at Montana Tech was in Upward Bound as a high school student. “TRIO SSS has helped me with my resume and advice about classes and ways to address stressful situations. I can come in and talk about an issue and get advice on who to contact or how to approach the situation to achieve a better outcome."

Montana Tech and Highlands College also hosts other TRIO programs: Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search, Educational Opportunities Center, and Veteran's Upward Bound.  For more information on any TRIO program, please contact the Institute for Educational Opportunities at 406.496.4690.