April 13, 2018

Manchin Champions Improvements and Funding for West Virginia Gear Up

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the GEAR UP for Success Act, which intends to improve the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP), a federal grant program that seeks to increase college awareness, readiness, and success for low-income and underrepresented students. He also is fighting for increased funding for the GEAR UP program to better serve students in West Virginia.

“Our children are our future. If we are going to continue to compete in a high-tech 21st century economy, we have to make sure that young people have the resources they need to receive a higher education,” said Senator Manchin. “This legislation will strengthen GEAR UP Programs across the country by empowering state and local leadership to design and implement programs that equip students with the tools necessary to succeed in post-secondary education and reduce the administrative burden for GEAR UP grantees. I am also working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to increase GEAR UP’s funding for FY19 so they can continue to help students across the country achieve their goals. GEAR UP has and will continue to help generations of students establish and achieve their academic goals, grow our economy and keep our country at the cutting edge of innovation.”

“The success of the GEAR UP program here in West Virginia has been tremendous,” said Dr. Paul L. Hill, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. “We are grateful to Senator Manchin for co-sponsoring the GEAR UP Student Success Act. We know that GEAR UP works in West Virginia because more than 92 percent of our GEAR UP parents hold true to the idea that their child will walk across the stage to receive a college degree. Ten years ago, when GEAR UP first began in West Virginia, only 63 percent of parents were of that belief. This marked change is due in great part to the education that is done with West Virginia GEAR UP, making students more aware of their financial aid options, and showing them what college life is like firsthand through campus tours. With this kind of progress, imagine where our state could be in another five, ten years with the number of college-degree-holding West Virginians. GEAR UP is making that kind of an impact in our state.”

Senator Manchin today urged leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies to increase funding for the GEAR UP program to better meet the needs of communities nationwide and help ensure that states and communities can compete for new awards. Read the letter here.

In West Virginia, GEAR UP is serving 5,000 students this year from 10 high-need counties and 23 high schools across the state. Over the life of the current seven-year grant, the program will serve 18,000 students in the Mountain State.

This legislation amends Section 404 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act and would:

  • Improve GEAR UP research and evaluation at the local and national levels
  • Empower state and local leadership on the GEAR UP scholarship component
  • Retain state and local flexibility in the design and implementation of programs
  • Reduce administrative burden for GEAR UP grantees