Photo of a student wearing a baseball cap sitting in an office with TRIO advisor

Northeastern Illinois University earns three TRIO Student Support Services grants totaling $3.9 million

Friday, August 28, 2020

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded three grants to Northeastern Illinois University in support of TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS), a program that provides individualized academic and social assistance to students from their freshman year through graduation. The grants were awarded for TRIO’s Regular (Achieve), Disability (Access) and Teacher Preparation programs, and each will have an annual distribution of $261,888 through 2025, totaling $3.9 million. Northeastern is the only university in the state to be awarded more than two TRIO grants.

“We’re so proud of our TRIO students,” TRIO SSS Director Amie Jatta said. “Northeastern’s TRIO Student Support Services have consistently over-delivered on retention, good academic standing and graduation objectives, which helped us earn these grants and become the only institution in Illinois to receive more than two TRIO grants.” 

The U.S. Department of Education, Postsecondary Education, Student Service-Federal TRIO Programs 2018-2019 Final Annual Performance Report showed that during the 2018-19 academic year, 86.57 percent of participating NEIU TRIO SSS students persisted from one academic year to the next, ahead of the goal of 80 percent. During the same period, 88.83 percent of participating NEIU TRIO SSS students maintained good academic standing, ahead of the goal of 80 percent. Additionally, the six-year graduation rate for participating NEIU TRIO SSS students was 72.15 percent, way ahead of the 50 percent grant objective.

"Students in our TRIO SSS programs have an individualized advising plan, called a Student Success Plan, to help them succeed and reach their goal of obtaining a bachelor's degree" Jatta said. "We work closely with the other NEIU success programs. They have been very supportive and helped in creating a pipeline where students have the opportunity to be served by TRIO SSS after they have completed their program requirements. One of the great advantages of our SSS programs is that we are able to work with our students from the day they are accepted into NEIU to the time they graduate. We are there every step of the way. We really want them to succeed. That is why we offer scholarships, tutoring, and programs like financial literacy, meditation, and strengths-based career advising to help our students think about what life looks like after graduation. It’s not just about what happens in the classroom; it’s about their development as a person, as an adult, navigating the college process.”

Jatta noted that TRIO SSS also works closely with Student Disability Services to provide additional support services to Northeastern students with disabilities. The Goodwin College of Education collaborates with TRIO SSS in a workshop series focused on content exams preparation. 

At Northeastern, TRIO SSS Access serves 100 students each year, while TRIO SSS Achieve and TRIO SSS Teacher Preparation each serve 140 students annually. To be a part of TRIO SSS, students must be accepted for enrollment at NEIU, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, be pursuing their first bachelor's degree and be either first-generation, income eligible, or have a documented disability. There is still program availability for students for Fall 2020 and Jatta encourages all eligible students to apply

“The joy we get as advisors, directors and coordinators is watching our students be successful,” Jatta said. 

Senior Psychology major Jacquanet Goggins is part of the TRIO SSS Achieve program. After attending a few different schools, Goggins first came to Northeastern as a food delivery driver. She fell in love with the campus, applied, and in Fall 2019, she transferred to Northeastern. Her younger sister told her about TRIO SSS and she was able to apply and was also accepted.

“TRIO has been a blessing,” Goggins said. “I truly feel like TRIO is part of the reason why I am succeeding in school. They give you that push that you need.”

Goggins is a single mother with two small kids, one of whom is also learning remotely. She’s also working full-time. She said one of the great things about her TRIO advisor is that he gives her the space to vent about her frustrations, then figures out ways to help her solve the issues.

“My advisor, Will, can make something so big seem so small, so much more manageable,” Goggins said. “I’ve been working on my degree since 2008, but it’s never too late. I believe in myself and I’m going to get it. I’m determined. With the support of my faculty advisor and the TRIO staff, I know that I can’t give up now because I have people cheering me on. That’s the difference between Northeastern and the other schools I’ve attended. TRIO makes Northeastern stand out.”

Claudia Rosales has also had a positive experience at Northeastern as part of the TRIO SSS Teacher Preparation program. She transferred to Northeastern after attending Loyola University and the City Colleges of Chicago. 

“NEIU and TRIO have helped me be the most successful I’ve ever been in school,” Rosales said. “I went to Loyola and failed miserably. There was a culture shock there of being one of the only Hispanic students. As a first-generation college student, I needed extra support. NEIU provides that and it’s been a whole different experience.” 

Rosales credits TRIO with the fact that she is now a Goodwin Merit Scholar because her TRIO advisor encouraged her to apply for the award. She is planning to graduate in December 2020 and is looking forward to becoming a secondary education math teacher. As a mother of three who is also trying to assist two of her children with remote learning, Rosales is thankful for all of the resources TRIO has provided her with throughout her time at NEIU. 

“There are so many things TRIO has done for me,” Rosales said. “I was pregnant while I was in TRIO, and they helped me find resources, let me know about lactation rooms the school has and gave me so much information as a parent. TRIO is also really good about helping students get tutoring. It’s amazing. It may be difficult, but it’s definitely doable.”