Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the GEAR UP for Success Act. This legislation would improve the GEAR UP federal grant program by giving grant recipients increased flexibility to cater to local students’ needs, reducing administrative burdens for grant recipients, and ensuring a more competitive and fair application process.
“Preparing students to pursue higher education is necessary if we as a nation are to have a civilly engaged, world changing generation of citizens. During the 2017-18 academic year, West Virginia GEAR UP students spent more than 39,000 hours engaged in activities that promote academic achievement, career exploration, college awareness and ultimately increased participation in postsecondary education. I am proud to introduce this measure and am excited to see how these West Virginians and Americans will shape our world into an even better one than we already have,” said Manchin.
“Our local schools should be able to use grants to cater specifically to their students’ needs,” Cornyn said. “This legislation will bring even greater local control in the GEAR UP program, from which many students in Texas have already benefited. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure students don’t fall behind, improve college completion rates, and ensure decisions rest with those who know our students best.”
Dr. Adam Green, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said GEAR UP has made a tremendous difference for thousands of West Virginia families. “GEAR UP is helping West Virginia students prepare for education beyond high school and creating a pathway for them to get good-paying jobs,” he said. “Time and time again, we hear from our GEAR UP students how much the program has helped them academically and socially. We are extremely proud of our students, as well as the school staff, their families and the grant partners who make this program so successful.”
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). The GEAR Up for Success Act would amend the Higher Education Opportunity Act to:
- Give school districts and other local entities increased flexibility to design programs to address local needs;
- Empower state and local leadership on the GEAR UP scholarship component;
- Improve GEAR UP research and evaluation at the local and national levels;
- Reduce administrative burdens for GEAR UP grantees; and
- Close loopholes to ensure a fair and competitive application process.
The GEAR UP Program is a competitive grant program that helps low-income and historically underrepresented students achieve college and career readiness, improve high school graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates, and raise awareness of postsecondary options among student and families. GEAR UP engages students early, accelerates their readiness through supplemental programs, and expands the capacity of schools to create “college going” cultures. Nationally, GEAR UP outcomes have shown positive student gains for participating students. GEAR UP students graduate from high school at a higher rate than their peers – regardless of ethnicity or income – and attend college at a higher rate.