Siloam Springs, Ark. (April 20, 2005) - John Brown University has received a Student Support Services grant of $220,000 a year for five years from the U.S. Department of Education. One of the federal programs known collectively as “TRIO programs,” Student Support Services (SSS) focuses on low-income students, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. SSS grants are typically awarded for four years, but the top ten percent of applicants receive a bonus fifth year. This is John Brown University’s first time to apply to this program. The grant will greatly benefit the community because it will increase the graduation rates of the students it serves. Research has demonstrated that students in the focus group have lower college graduation rates than other students and drop out of school more frequently. The Department of Education’s objectives for Student Support Services is to increase the retention and graduation rates of eligible students and foster climates that support the success of low-income, first-generation and disabled college students. At JBU, the grant will provide SSS students with personal mentoring and advising, additional tutors and financial aid, career counseling, and a special orientation to campus their freshman year. “This program will take what we already did well and allow us to expand it to ensure the academic success of more students,” Cheryl Kester, director of grants and foundation relations at JBU and author of the federal grant proposal, said. “John Brown University already has good graduation rates, but we want to make sure that we continue our commitment to making a private education affordable and successful for as many students as possible.” The JBU Student Development staff handling the program will grow from one person to four or five over the summer in preparation for the increased services offered. The program will serve 160 JBU students, about ten percent of the student body. “The TRIO grant will give JBU the opportunity to greatly expand the kind of academic assistance services that we can offer to students with disabilities, low-income, and first generation students,” said Becky Lambert, the coordinator for disability services and retention at JBU. “We’re going to have the chance to hire more staff to work directly with students giving them one-on-one attention that we’ve previously not been able to provide. I'm excited about having this opportunity on our campus.” Sixty-five percent of the first-year program costs are financed by the SSS grant, with 35 percent, or $78,052, financed by JBU’s budget. JBU joins approximately 936 other colleges and universities nationwide and 25 other Arkansas institutions, such as Ouachita Baptist University, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, UALR and Harding University, as a Student Support Services grant recipient. John Brown University is a private Christian university, ranked 8th by U.S. News & World Report in the Southern Region. JBU enrolls more than 1,900 students from 43 states and 39 countries. JBU is a member of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.