Southeast Awarded Department of Education Grant for TRIO Student Support Services


Southeast Missouri State University has been awarded a $1.9 million TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Southeast will use the funding to support 200 Southeast students annually over a five-year period through the University’s Academic Support Centers.

“At Southeast, we take pride in supporting students to pursue their higher education goals and ensuring they receive the skills and knowledge to be successful beyond graduation,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “The University’s TRIO Programs strive to provide exemplary opportunities for our students, and we are pleased to be able to continue that effort with the federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education..”

The grant provides comprehensive services including academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help applying for graduate school, assistance in course selection and financial literacy. Through individualized support, these services promote academic success, increase graduation rates, and aim to help students reduce their student loan debt.

“This five-year grant cycle will provide students with support and engagement leading to an increase in graduation rates,” said Valdis Zalite, director of TRIO Programs at Southeast. “We take pride in our students and look forward to supporting this incoming class of freshman through their graduation.”

Student Support Services (SSS), a national federally funded program that began in 1968, is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. SSS assists college students who have limited income, are first-generation students or who are students with disabilities.

Southeast was awarded its first SSS program grant back in 1990. The new grant marks the eighth funded SSS proposal for Southeast. This represents 30 years of consecutive funding to support limited income, first-generation students and/or students with disabilities.

Southeast earned a perfect score for its grant proposal, recognizing the effective and efficient running of the University’s TRIO Programs during its previous grant cycle from 2015-2020. This is the third time the University has earned a perfect score.

“We wrote a successful proposal during a very competitive year,” Zalite said. “We have many offices across campus that assisted with editing, data collection and technical support. The TRIO staff is excited to continue to serve our Southeast students eligible for the program.”

Southeast is one of 1,131 institutions selected for funding from more than 2,000 submitted proposals.

“This was a collective effort. We worked with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the Office of Institutional Research, the Center for Writing Excellence, the Academic Support Centers staff as well as faculty and staff from various departments for targeted information,” said Trent Ball, associate vice president for equity and access. “Our institutional commitment to support SSS students at Southeast continues to be strong and that commitment from many offices across campus is commendable.”

In addition to the Student Support Services Program, Southeast also has a McNair Scholars Program, funded through 2022, designed to assist students preparing for graduate school.

For more information, visit