Winona State University’s TRIO Student Support Services has been awarded a grant for over $3 Million, as was recently announced by the U.S. Department of Education.

The federally funded TRIO SSS grant, which is awarded every five years, goes towards serving students who are considered first-generation, low-income, and students with disabilities to guide them in the pursuit of their educational goals.

The Student Support Services (SSS) is one of many federal TRIO Programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education. The SSS program began in 1965 after the Higher Education Act was amended to include special services for disadvantaged students. Winona State University has continued to receive the Student Support Services grant for nearly 40 years due to its success in assisting more than 1,000 WSU students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. For the first time at Winona State University, an additional federal grant (SSS-Disability) will be awarded in addition to the existing SSS program. Both federal grants will provide over $3,000,000 in funding over five years at Winona State to create opportunities for eligible students to acquire academic tutoring, advising, educational resources for financial and economic literacy, plus much more. The SSS/SSS-Disabilities program aims to increase college retention and graduation rates for first-generation, low-income, and students with disabilities.

Each year at Winona State, TRIO SSS serves over 225 students and maintains a wait-list of eligible students requesting academic assistance. TRIO eligible students must overcome many academic, financial, and economic barriers to complete their educational goals of a 4-year degree at WSU.

The Higher Education Act acknowledges the students whose parents do not possess post-secondary education as they will have more difficulty navigating the complex decisions involved in college success. It also recognizes students from low-income households who may not have had similar opportunities as their college peers and assists students with disabilities by removing obstacles that prevent them from thriving academically. The federal TRIO SSS programs are significant, and many TRIO alums have gone on to have great success. For more than 50 years, the Student Support Services program has made significant contributions to individuals and society by providing a broad range of services to help students succeed, this vital program can and does make all the difference.


“Winona State University is fully committed to creating an equitable environment for all our students,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Life Denise McDowell. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that our university can continue supporting our students who need it most, and TRIO Student Support Services is vital to that effort. This grant will ensure that they can continue the important work that they do on our campus.”


“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,” said 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.

Currently, the WSU TRIO programs are being led by program Director, Nhia Yang, in the division of Student Life & Development.


About Winona State University

Founded in 1858, Winona State University is a comprehensive, regional public university with over 7,600 students on campuses in Winona and Rochester. Around half of WSU students are first-generation, meaning neither parent has a four-year bachelor’s degree. The oldest member of the Minnesota State system, WSU offers more than 80 undergraduate, pre-professional, licensure, graduate and doctorate programs in five colleges: Business, Education, Liberal Arts, Nursing & Health Sciences, and Science & Engineering.

Winona State is ranked as the second public institution in Minnesota by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges,” has been named among the “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review for 17 years in a row, and has been featured as one of America’s 100 Best College Buys for quality and value for 24 consecutive years. The University generates $447.9 million in economic impact for the region per year. The University’s mission is to enhance the intellectual, social, cultural and economic vitality of the people and communities we serve: a community of learners improving our world. For more information, visit

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Winona State University Communications Office manages media relations for the university as well as external and internal communications, connecting with local and regional media outlets in Winona, Rochester, La Crosse and the Twin Cities

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