Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal program that provides competitive six- and seven-year grants to education/community partnerships and states to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Washington State was awarded its fourth consecutive state GEAR UP grant in 2017. The $24.5 million award provides direct services to over 8,000 students and their families in 27 high-poverty school districts statewide. With the program’s dollar-for-dollar cost-share requirement, the total program investment over the life of the six-year grant will be over $54 million.

GEAR UP’s vision is that all students are academically, socially, and financially prepared to enter and complete the college of their choice.

GEAR UP’s three objectives are:

  • Increase academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education.
  • Increase high school graduation and postsecondary participation rates.
  • Increase students’ and their families’ knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and finances.
Benefits to students and families:
  • Over the past five years, GEAR UP provided opportunities for students to attend summer camp on college campuses, including Central, Eastern, and Western Washington Universities, and the University of Washington.
  • Students have access to extended day programs for tutoring, mentoring, and advising.
  • Students and their families visit multiple college campuses to help them make better choices about college fit.
Program results:
  • 85 percent of students report someone has spoken to them about college entrance requirements.
  • 71 percent of students report someone has spoken to them about financial aid.
  • 93 percent of students report they plan to attend college.
  • 52 percent of seniors in GEAR UP schools completed a FAFSA in 2015-16, exceeding the overall state rate for public school seniors.

Learn more about GEAR UP at