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      Student support services may be in jeopardy

      There are more than 900 TRIO support programs nationwide that help college students|well, get through college. Finlandia University in Hancock offers that help to 180 of them. Meghan Sporer is one of those students. As a mother of two and a junior majoring in psychology, Meghan uses TRIO as a shoulder to lean on. "It TMs helping me out a lot, said Sporer. "It TMs awesome that I can be on campus and have the support I need, and I TMm able to get tutoring when I want." We often think of helping students financially, but with TRIO support services, the help extends far beyond money. "We TMre just another extra layer, said Rob McTaggart, Director of Student Support Services at Finlandia. Once students get into the groove of being in our program, we like to think that whenever they pop in these doors, it TMs kind of like a home away from home." First generation college students, low-income students, and those with learning or physical disabilities qualify for the program. The program offers personal counseling, academic help, and career services. McTaggart says students who qualify for the program often need the extra assistance to graduate. But with funding gaps trickling down from Washington, the future of the program could be in jeopardy. "We TMre starting this year with a 3.1 percent reduction in funding, and that was an across-the-board cut; next year it TMs anybody's guess," McTaggart said. McTaggart says petitions to Congress haven TMt stopped since the program first sat on the chopping block last year. Letters written from the program's CEO urge students and faculty to voice their concerns to Congress, voices that Meghan hopes will be heard in Washington. "If the program was cut, I TMd be lost without it," Sporer said.