Skip to Content

School districts sought for GEAR UP Iowa grant

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Students in the class of 2027 have the opportunity to receive college access support beginning in seventh grade. GEAR UP Iowa, a federal grant administered by Iowa College Aid, is looking for partner school districts to increase college and career access and readiness, with particular emphasis on underserved and low-income populations. Districts must have at least half of their students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch to participate.

The program seeks districts which are committed to developing and tailoring innovative supports for students, with the primary goal of increasing the number of students who graduate from high school prepared to succeed in postsecondary education.

GEAR UP Iowa helps address the root causes of college achievement gaps by preparing students, beginning in seventh grade, to enroll and succeed in college. Once enrolled in college, GEAR UP Iowa students receive a scholarship. Students and families receive academic, financial, and inspirational support services, which continue through the students’ first year of college.

Support services for students include guidance on the value of postsecondary education, early college exploration such as campus visits, help with college and financial aid applications, academic support such as tutoring and test prep, career exposure such as college fairs and job site visits, and soft skill development such as attitudes and habits. Districts receive supports such as help aligning college and career readiness goals, resources for school counselors and other staff, and placement of GEAR UP coaches.

GEAR UP Iowa has been a component of the state’s efforts to meet its Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of the workforce will have education or training beyond high school by 2025. The program has served the 2014 and 2020 high school classes with encouraging results.

The GEAR UP Iowa high school class of 2020 received nearly 219,000 hours of support services and were 20 percentage points more likely to take the ACT exam than students in non-participating districts. Financial aid applications this year grew by 3 percentage points at GEAR UP Iowa schools, even as they fell at other Iowa schools and at schools nationwide. Almost 40 percent of 2020 GEAR UP Iowa graduates have already claimed their college scholarships.

For more information and to indicate interest, a district representative should fill out the survey at by Dec. 31.

For more information about GEAR UP Iowa, visit

Article Type: 

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on March 08, 2021 at 4:21pm.