College is supposed to be hard enough without having to work 30 hours a week. But this is reality for many students at CSU who come from low-income households.
â€œIt creates certainly more challenges for a student,â€ said CSUâ€™s Academic Advancement Center Director Andrea Reeve, referring to students who have to financially support themselves throughout college.
But those students are not alone.
Since its establishment in 1978, the AAC provides programs to help low-income, first-generation college students, foster youths and students with disabilities stay in college and earn their bachelorâ€™s degrees.
And after recently being awarded a competitive $2 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education, the center will be able to continue its academic support programs for the next five years.
â€œWe competed nationally against 1,400 grant proposals and the panel read, scored them and funded 1,000 programs,â€ Reeve said.
The AAC is almost solely supported by the grant, having reapplied for it through its decades as a campus organization.
â€œThis program has been on this campus for 32 years,â€ Reeve said. â€œBut we wouldnâ€™t have a program without it (the grant).â€
The AAC is one of 946 federally funded Student Support Services TRIO programs, which aim to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds â€œenter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in Americaâ€™s economic and social life,â€ according to the centerâ€™s official website.
Throughout the years, the AAC has provided more than 6,500 students with tutoring, mentoring and financial services.
First-generation students had a more difficult time adjusting and getting involved in college than students whose parents had some post-secondary college experience, according to a statistical analysis report from the U.S. Department of Education.
â€œWe know that students who are first-generation, disabled or from low-income houses have more challenges in persistence and support,â€ Reeve said. â€œTry to imagine what itâ€™s like for someone whose parents donâ€™t have a college degree, who canâ€™t explain things like registering.â€
â€œIt (AAC) really provides a lot of academic and other kinds of support for students,â€ Reeve added.
Alhassan Kamara, a junior business management major and first-generation student, is one of the 275 CSU students receiving support from the AAC.
â€œThey helped me get to college and gave me all the necessary information I needed to become a successful student,â€ Kamara said. â€œThey also really helped me adjust to college life.â€
After taking a year off following his graduation in spring 2012, Kamara plans to attend graduate school and receive his masterâ€™s in business administration.
â€œSo far itâ€™s been good, itâ€™s been really, really good,â€ Kamara said of his experiences at CSU.
Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.