Sonoma State University Awarded More Than $4 Million to Help Low Income, Potential First-Generation College Students Access Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Sonoma State University will receive more than $4 million to continue helping low-income, potential first-generation students in Sonoma and Mendocino counties prepare for and enroll in college.

By way of two federal Talent Search grants lasting five years, totaling $4,129,412, Sonoma State’s Academic Talent Search program will continue to identify and assist middle and high school students who have the potential to succeed in higher education. At least two-thirds of the students in each local Talent Search program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor’s degree.

Susan Wandling, senior director of Pre-Collegiate Programs at SSU, notes the renewed support from the Department of Education “confirms that we are doing a good job helping our students prepare for and enroll in a college of their choice and that we have a solid plan to reach and serve eligible students with high-impact services.”

One of the Federal TRIO Programs, the Academic Talent Search program at Sonoma State has helped 4,035 students enroll in a postsecondary institution since 1990. Talent Search provides these students with counseling and information about college admissions requirements, scholarships, and various student financial aid programs so that they can better understand their educational opportunities and options. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 80% of Talent Search participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In fiscal year 2020, more than 309,000 students are enrolled in 473 Talent Search TRIO projects across the U.S.

Talent Search began in 1965 and was the second of eight federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success. It supports students from low-income families who have not had the academic opportunities their college peers have had and helps remove obstacles preventing students from thriving academically.

To learn more about Academic Talent Search at SSU, visit