Oregon Tech TRIO program receives $1.47 million in federal funding to support first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The TRIO Student Support Services at Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) has been awarded $1.47 million in federal grant funding through the U.S. Department of Education. The competitive award allows the continuation of the program for another five years.

The Federal TRIO Programs are outreach and student services programs designed to support individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Oregon Tech’s TRIO Student Support Services—called the Tech Opportunities Program (TOP)—receives funding through a competitive federal grant process, with funds awarded to colleges and universities to provide opportunities for students’ academic development as well as to motivate students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary degrees. The goal of these programs is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of its participants, who include students from low-income families, first-generation students, and students with disabilities. About 64 percent of Oregon Tech students on the Klamath Falls campus qualify for TOP assistance, although combined federal and Oregon Tech funding currently only enables the campus to serve 160 students each year.

Oregon Tech president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan, looks forward to continued investment in the program. “The work of our TRIO staff has been a key contributor to the well-being of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and in turn, promotes the diversity of our university student body,” he shared. “Many students depend on this program to help them adjust to college and to support them in their educational journey. It is extraordinary when you think about the life challenges that our students come to us with and Oregon Tech’s TRIO program is instrumental in providing them crucial support. It is encouraging to receive this high level of competitive funding to continue providing the services our students need in order to be successful.”

TOP program director Michal Kawka said, “The renewal of the TRIO grant is essential because it ensures a continuation of services for students most at need and adds momentum to the progress already achieved by our program. For example, this year we surpassed the grant’s stated goal of a graduation rate of 45 percent or above, with an actual graduation rate of 57 percent, and we have seen consistent retention rates above 85 percent. To achieve these outcomes, our team utilizes a holistic and appreciative advising model that encourages students’ overall growth and well-being. We recognize that the challenges faced by underrepresented students often have non-academic roots and are best addressed through community building, peer mentoring, personal and professional development, as well as holistic, proactive, and cohort-based advising.

“It is an incredible honor to have a TRIO program on our campus and see the transformational change that occurs in the lives of our students as they persist from one academic year to another and graduate from Oregon Tech,” added Michal. “At the same time, we do not need to dig deep in the data to find the achievement gaps on our campus between students who have TRIO qualifiers and those who do not. Therefore, the renewal of the TRIO grant is also a huge responsibility for our entire Oregon Tech community to keep a razor sharp focus on building the type of university in which all students, regardless of their disadvantaged backgrounds, have an equal chance for success.”

TOP services include:

  • One-on-one and group tutoring;
  • Academic, career, and financial aid planning;
  • Peer mentoring and networking with other students;
  • College success classes, faculty-led sessions, and workshops;
  • Assistance with applying for financial aid, scholarships, and grants; and
  • Community building and cultural events.

Beginning in September of this year, Oregon Tech will receive $294,380 annually for the next five years to fund the TRIO program. For more information about the program or the eligibility requirements, visitwww.oit.edu/top or call 541.885.1125.