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MAYS LANDING - The U.S. Department of Education announced that Atlantic Cape Community College will receive a federal Student Support Services (SSS) grant of $1,740,010 to help more students succeed in and graduate from college. 

According to a release, Atlantic Cape has been a recipient of this award since 1994 and uses the funding to serve 200 students each academic year. 

SSS helps college students who are low-income, first-generation (those whose parents do not have a four-year college degree) or students with disabilities. The array of services the grant will provide are comprehensive and will include academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help in choosing courses, and other forms of assistance. Such services enhance academic success and make it more likely that students will graduate or transfer with the lowest possible debt. 

Many Student Support Services alumni have gone on to great success, among them Emmy, Tony and Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, U.S. Rep. Gwendolyn Moore (D-Wis.) and Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic astronaut. 

SSS began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success; it bolsters students from low-income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had, and helps students with disabilities remove obstacles preventing them from thriving academically.

"This program really made it possible for me to reach all of my academic and career goals," stated Harlin Colon, who graduated from Atlantic Cape, in 2017, with a degree in Criminal Justice. "Being the first person in my family to attend college, there were times I would question how I was going to make it to the finish line with the lack of support in the household/financially, and struggling academically. The SSS program assigned me a counselor that I met with several times a semester who made sure I was keeping up with all my schoolwork and passing all of my classes."

"We pride ourselves on the support we can offer our students," stated Atlantic Cape President Dr. Barbara Gaba. "We want everyone to have access to education along with the tools to help them successfully complete their studies. This federal grant has given us the opportunity to help so many individuals and will continue to assist many others in the years to come."

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keep promising students from succeeding in college. Student Support Services is needed now more than ever,” stated Maureen Hoyler. Hoyler is the president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education, in Washington, D.C., dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities.

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