decorative image of pscsign_generic_600 , Auto Draft 2019-10-11 09:54:49 Published: 10-11-2019

By Troy Moon, Pensacola State College

Pensacola State College was recently awarded a $2.2 million U.S. Department of Education Title III grant to help low-income students.

The grant funds will be used to initiate a five-year program to improve services for low-income students, including hiring more advisors and tutors.

The grant beefs up the college’s Pirate PATH to Success program, which serves first-time college students, first-generation-in-college students and Pell grant recipients.

“It’s going to support what we’re already doing,” said Debbie Douma, the college’s Dean of Grants and Federal Programs. “But we’ll be able to make major improvements and additions.”

The total grant amount is $2,248,838.82, payable over five years. The first installment of $449,119 was awarded on Oct. 1. The grant runs from Oct. 1 2019, to Sept. 30 2024.

Kathy Dutremble, Dean of Student Affairs, is project director and will lead the implementation of grant initiatives.

Douma said the project “focuses on increasing retention and completion for postsecondary students desiring a certificate or degree to immediately enter the workforce or transfer to a university.”

She said the grant will allow the Pensacola State to hire “discipline-specific advisors” to better assist students. Currently, the college has general advisors, but none specific to certain programs or course disciplines. The grant award also will increase tutoring programs, whether it is face-to-face tutoring or virtual tutoring.

The Department of Education’s Title III program is subtitled “Strengthening Institutions.” The program helps colleges and universities to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability of schools.

“This grant will make us a better institution and help us provide more and better services for our low-income students,’’ Douma said. “It strengthens us as an institution.”

To be eligible for the Title III grant, schools must have at least 37 percent of its half-time to full-time students receiving Pell Grants. At Pensacola State, 49 percent of half-time and full-time students receive Pell Grants.

“It’s a real shot in the arm,’’ said Pensacola State President Ed Meadows. “For the past five years, the college has placed extra emphasis on student support services to assist at-risk students, first-time in college students and low-income students. This will provide us with additional advisors and tutors and other resources that can be utilized to help.”