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The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has received a highly competitive U.S. Department of Education federal TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant totaling more than $2.27 million to help 265 students annually over the next five years.

The UH Mānoa SSS program helps increase graduation and retention rates of first generation college students and those with high financial need. The grant will provide many services, including academic advising for all majors, financial aid advice, career and graduate school mentoring, and referrals to other services. Such services enhance academic success and increase the likelihood that students will graduate with the lowest possible debt.

“Last year the SSS program had a 98 percent retention rate, and we regularly have about an 80 percent graduation rate each year. Much of this is due to the close relationships we develop with our students,” said Barbara Watanabe, SSS director. “We are able to give personalized information to help them graduate as efficiently as possible and write strong letters of recommendations for scholarships, jobs and graduate schools.”


One of those graduates is Jill Chapman, a public health major. “I was a non-traditional college student and the first to attend a university in my family. I was nervous and unsure how to navigate the UH system, apply for scholarships, and how to access the resources available to me on campus,” she said. “My advisor at SSS gave me guidance and support that made it possible to graduate on time. I strongly suggest any students with questions about college pursue this opportunity to be part of the SSS ʻohana.”

The SSS program originated with other TRIO programs in the Higher Education Act of 1965 and has been present and continually funded on the UH Mānoa campus since 1970. TRIO programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address the serious social and cultural barriers to education in America.

Activities to celebrate UH Mānoa SSS’s 50th anniversary will take place in various forms throughout the academic year.

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