The next time you’re looking for a reason to feel good about paying your Federal income taxes, check out a program called Student Support Services (SSS) that is a vital part of campus life at Indiana Wesleyan University.
SSS spends your Federal tax dollars on real people with real needs, all of which produce real results that help change lives.
The program provides a multitude of services to college students who have educational or financial challenges. Specifically, SSS students must be a first-generation college student, come from a low-income family, or have a documented disability. Almost half of the 160 IWU students served by SSS meet more than one of those criteria.
IWU, which has provided SSS services for 35 years, is one of just three private colleges in Indiana to participate in the program. IWU recently received a $1.398 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue the program for another five years.
Continued funding is based on previous results, and, by any measure, IWU’s performance over the past five years has been outstanding. Here are the standards for SSS students at IWU:
- Required persistence rate: 70 percent. IWU’s rate: 89.37 percent. (The rate is based on the numbers of students who return to campus each year.)
- Required good academic standing: 80 percent. IWU’s rate: 99.37 percent. (Based on grade-point averages.)
- Required graduation rate: 50 percent. IWU’s rate: 55.55 percent. (Based on students who initially enrolled at IWU in 2009.)
“Some people may not consider a 55 percent graduation rate to be a significant achievement” says Karen Newhard, the SSS program director. “However, many of our students have financial and educational challenges that place them at a higher risk for leaving college before graduating. We are proud of how our students face these challenges and persevere.”
Heather Allen, assistant director of the program, notes that a portion of their students are among the highest-risk students at IWU for educational or financial reasons.
“In addition to the three main criteria for being admitted to the SSS program, our students also have to demonstrate a need for support, which is measured in a variety of ways such as low admission test scores, need for support to raise a grade in a required course for their major, or lack of educational or career goals,” Allen says. “We have several pre-declared students in our program who may otherwise be academically prepared.”
Some of the services offered to SSS students include one-on-one tutoring, study skills training, time management training, conflict resolution, personal encouragement, academic major exploration, disability support and interpersonal skills training. Students also are required to take an online course in personal finance to learn tools to manage money and school debt effectively.
“Many of the students we serve don’t know how to get their questions answered or don’t know what questions to ask,” Allen says. “One of our jobs is to help them navigate college.”
Newhard, Allen and other staff members at IWU’s Center for Student Success work diligently each day to be good stewards of your Federal income tax dollars. The results they are producing in the lives of at-risk students indicate they are worthy of your trust.