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About the Grant

The GEAR UP initiative was authorized by Title IV of the 1998 Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) and was signed into public law (P.L.105-244) on September 29, 1998 by President Clinton.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of low–income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing States and local community-education partnerships six-to-seven year grants to offer supportive services to high poverty, middle and high schools.

Utah State University was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Education in 2012 to implement USU STARS! GEAR UP over the next seven years. USU STARS! GEAR UP is a partnership grant housed in the USU College of Education. As one of the Local Education Agency (LEA) partners in the grant, USU Student Services is providing higher education resources to the 3,000 students within the 11 selected schools.



USU STARS! GEAR UP aims to expand the college-going culture in Utah. By using an empowerment model that recognizes the assets and needs of the local communities, USU STARS! GEAR UP looks to shift the state’s educational culture. We aim to develop long-term, successful partnerships to support students in reaching and providing them with the resources to succeed in college.

National GEAR UP Goals

  1. Increase the academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education for GEAR UP students.
  2. Increase the rates of high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education for GEAR UP students.
  3. Increase GEAR UP students’ and their families’ knowledge of postsecondary education options, preparation, and financing.


  1. Increase knowledge of financial aid information to students and parents for postsecondary education.
  2. Encourage student enrollment in rigorous and challenging curricula to reduce remedial coursework at the postsecondary level.
  3. Improve the number of students who obtain a high school diploma and enroll in postsecondary education.