About GEAR UP Iowa

What we do and who we are.


Learn more about GEAR UP Iowa and how it helps send students to college.

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission has been awarded a second federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Grant totaling $22 million, beginning in fall 2014. This seven year project will support a cohort of about 6,300 students beginning in the 7th grade and will follow them as they progress through school. The program is a long-term partnership between Iowa College Aid, 12 partner school districts and nearly 40 partnering institutions of higher education and community-based organizations.

The students and their families will receive a variety of services aimed at preparing them academically, financially and inspirationally to enroll and succeed in college. Upon enrollment in a college, GEAR UP Iowa students will receive a modest scholarship for up to four years.

GEAR UP Iowa is charged with significantly increasing the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. The Iowa College Student Aid Commission administers GEAR UP Iowa in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and other state agencies; local school districts; postsecondary educational institutions; and community organizations, businesses, and industries.

The total of this seven-year Federal award of $22,379,301 will include $3,206,922 for the first year and represents 50% of the total project budget. The other 50% of program costs will be covered in the form of non-federal matching dollars from 36 partners across the state, totaling $22,670,801.

GEAR UP Iowa Program Goals:


Increase the number of minority and low-income students in GEAR UP Iowa partner schools who graduate from high school prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Support GEAR UP partner high schools in implementing educational programs to ensure students successfully complete rigorous college-preparation curricula, graduate from high school, and easily transition from K-12 into higher education programs.

Foster a statewide “college going” culture among low-income, minority, and first-generation students and increase knowledge and support as students and families plan, prepare and pay for postsecondary education beyond high school.

Partner with the Iowa Department of Education and other organizations with similar missions to support systems and curricula that increase higher education access and student preparedness.

Implementation of GEAR UP Iowa at the local level will help schools:

  • Diagnose the student barriers to higher education.
  • Facilitate the completion of a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.
  • Provide intensive academic and social support to students.
  • Implement activities to educate and inform Iowa families about the value of a postsecondary education.
  • Guide students and families through the college search, application, and enrollment process.

GEAR UP Iowa Fact Sheet

PDF with key facts and information on GEAR UP Iowa, goals, districts and schools. (PDF)

GEAR UP Iowa Staff

GEAR UP Iowa Year 7 Partner Colleges

  • University of Iowa
  • Iowa State University
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Drake
  • Grand View University
  • Simpson College
  • Eastern Iowa Community College
  • Indian Hills Community College