Skip to main content | (360) 753-7800


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 5,500 students and their families in 26 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 $49 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:
  • Partner school districts receive funding to hire additional staff to serve as college access professionals, tutors, mentors, and other program support staff who provide direct services to students and families.
  • Students have access to extended day programs for tutoring, mentoring, and advising.
  • Students and their families have multiple opportunities to visit postsecondary campuses to learn about admissions, academic programs, and financial aid options, attend student workshops, and participate in summer campus experiences.
Program results:
  • 68 percent of the Class of 2017 had enrolled in a postsecondary institution by fall 2018.
  • Twenty-seven GEAR UP schools offered dual enrollment courses, resulting in over 270 students graduating high school with an associate degree or certificate.
  • 72 percent of 2017 graduates completed a FAFSA.

Learn more about GEAR UP at