VU awarded almost $700,000 in annual grants for Student Support Services

VU awarded almost $700,000 in annual grants for Student Support Services

Vincennes University Logo

August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020

VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University has received grants from the U.S. Department of Education that help boost students who face barriers to completing college.

VU’s Collaborative Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (COPE) Student Support Services Program and Experience VU Student Support Services Program provide support to low income, first-generation, and/or students with disabilities.

The COPE SSS Program will receive close to $401,000 annually for a five-year cycle, while the Experience VU SSS Program will get nearly $262,000 annually during the same time frame.

Both programs encourage student success in a variety of ways.

Experience VU facilitates accommodations as approved by the VU Office of Diverse Abilities and Accommodations. It also offers planned orientation activities that ensure a smooth college transition, computer labs with open tutoring and assistive technology, a study-friendly and sensory-free lounge, career assistance with job shadowing and internship opportunities, weekly cohort group activities, an early warning system, and grade monitoring as well as many other services.

Dr. Ken Coleman, Experience VU Director

“We are proud of the work we do each day for students with disabilities,” said Experience VU Program Director Dr. Ken Coleman. “Students with disabilities often require intense intervention and assistance as they navigate college campus. Sometimes tasks such as completing financial aid forms or requesting accommodations for their disability can be challenging for our students.”

COPE also offers students a myriad of services, including professional tutoring, individualized coaching and mentoring by trained and certified staff, soft skills workshops that will enhance student resumes, intensive academic advising, executive function strategies such as time management, planning, and organizing and study skills tips, and transfer assistance to a four-year program.


Additionally, COPE along with its club, Triple S, sponsors gaming and activities twice a week for students to socialize and de-escalate from academics. Students and staff are constantly in contact with each other via face-to-face interaction, texts, newsletters, and other forms of communication.

Dr. Candace Joles, COPE Director

“A welcoming environment creates a sense of belonging for students to come study, hang out between classes, and to meet others during activities,” VU COPE Student Support Services Director Dr. Candace Joles said. “Research states that if students have an identified campus person or area, they will be more apt to retain and graduate. This sense of belonging later keeps students coming back to the computer labs for academic assistance, study skills, and executive function assistance.”

COPE serves 255 students each year. 

With COPE’s assistance, Devin Higginbotham overcame challenges to earn an associate degree in diesel technology. He is back at VU and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business management. 

Devin Higginbotham, VU Student

“COPE has helped me tremendously in a few different ways,” he said. “I was impacted by COPE the most with the helpful tutoring that they offer. I went to tutoring two years straight with barely missing a day. I was able to obtain what the professors were speaking on due to COPE. It’s a quiet, friendly environment. They have helped me with financial problems. They give out grants and scholarships. They turned my meal plan back on. They offered me a part-time job as a peer mentor.”

The Experience VU SSS Program at VU has served at least 125 students each year since 2015. 

Marianne Downing of Greencastle, Indiana is one of those students. She earned an associate degree in social work and a certificate in substance abuse and is currently employed as a teaching assistant.

Marianne Downing, VU Graduate

“Experience VU is amazing,” Downing said. “They helped me make an academic plan, tutoring, FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), transfer applications, and overall they were a team of wonderful individuals who would let you vent about anything going on in your life. Experience VU had a very positive influence while I was at VU.”

Learn more about: COPE SSS and Experience VU SSS