FAQs

Answers to GEAR UP Iowa’s most frequently asked questions.

GEAR UP Iowa FAQs

Get answers to GEAR UP Iowa’s most frequently asked questions.

  • Who is eligible for GEAR UP Iowa?

    GEAR UP Iowa began serving a cohort of 7th grade students in 12 partner school districts during the 2014-2015 academic year. Partner schools were selected for several reasons, but are required to have at least half of their students qualify for Free or Reduced Price Lunch. During the 2016-2017 school year, all students who were enrolled as a 9th grader at any of the 12 partner districts throughout the academic year were added to the cohort.

  • Who will receive the GEAR UP Iowa scholarship?

    All students identified as a GEAR UP Iowa participant are eligible to receive the GEAR UP Iowa scholarship. The student must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen in order to receive the scholarship or any other federal financial aid.

  • How much is the GEAR UP Iowa scholarship?

    Each GEAR UP Iowa student will receive at least the minimum Pell grant amount, which is approximately $600 per year. The student can receive the scholarship for up to 4 years. In order to receive the scholarship, the student needs to take out their first disbursement of the scholarship prior to the age of 22.

  • What if a GEAR UP Iowa student changes schools?

    A GEAR UP Iowa student who switches schools is not likely to receive the same level of services if their new school is not a participating GEAR UP Iowa school district. However, they are still eligible for the GEAR UP Iowa scholarship.

  • My student started after 7th grade at a GEAR UP Iowa school, are they a GEAR UP Iowa student?

    Unfortunately, no. GEAR UP Iowa is a program that follows a group of students through school, beginning in 7th grade. Students who enroll after 7th grade in a partner school would not be considered GEAR UP Iowa and would not receive the scholarship. However, all students enrolled in partner schools may benefit indirectly through services and activities offered through GEAR UP Iowa at their school.

  • What if I don’t want my student to participate in GEAR UP Iowa?

    GEAR UP Iowa is a set of services and activities provided to a select group of students in partner schools to support their academic and career success. As a GEAR UP Iowa participant, your student has access to services and activities regardless of family background or income. We hope all students will benefit from these services, but if you feel your student is not in need of the scholarship after graduation, there will be an option to decline the scholarship.

  • What services are available to GEAR UP Iowa students?

    Services vary depending upon the school. These services may include tutoring, mentoring, college visits, college and career exploration, ACT/SAT preparation and scholarship and financial literacy education. These services will continue through high school and into their first year of postsecondary education.

  • How do I get more information about GEAR UP Iowa?

    Each school has a GEAR UP Iowa coordinator who can give you more information about specific services and events at your school. Contact your school’s office to find out who the coordinator is in your school.

  • Can GEAR UP students receive the scholarship if they graduate early? What about late?

    Early graduates need to complete the FAFSA like all of the 2020 graduates. At this point, early graduates may only receive a GU scholarship that is equivalent to the minimum Pell.

    Late graduates can also receive the scholarship as long as they complete the FAFSA and their first disbursement occurs before the age of 22. The scholarship is first-come-first-served and there is no guarantee that the funding will be there that far down the road.

  • Can home schooled students get the scholarship?

    Yes, as long as they were reported in 9th grade enrollment data by their corresponding school district (most home school programs still report to a district). This gets them counted in with the cohort and we will be able to match them once they file a FAFSA. Home schooled students still have to complete a diploma in order to receive the scholarship.

  • How do I apply for the scholarship?

    If you are a resident of the state of Iowa: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA. You should fill out the FAFSA every year beginning with your senior year of high school. The FAFSA is the application for all kinds of college financial aid, including the GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship. The FAFSA is available each year beginning in October. Each college will have a deadline by which they want the FAFSA completed – be sure to find out about your college’s deadline! Otherwise, you might not be considered for all the aid your college offers.

    If you are a GEAR UP Iowa student who now lives in another state: Please contact us at gearup@iowa.gov.

  • How do I know if my college is eligible?

    In order to be eligible for the Scholarship, you must attend a Title IV college. A Title IV college/university is one that participates in Federal Student Aid programs. You can search for Title IV institutions on the Federal Student Aid website by entering information about the college (state, city, and/or name.)  If your college appears in the Search Results, then it’s a Title IV college and you can receive GEAR UP Scholarship funds while you’re enrolled.

  • How can I use the Scholarship money?

    The money can be used for tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and personal expenses that are included in your Cost of Attendance. Money will first be applied toward any outstanding balance you have with the college. Balance is paid in full, any leftover Scholarship money can be refunded to you.

  • What if I don’t go to college right away after high school graduation?

    You can still use the Scholarship even if you don’t go to college right away. The rules of the Scholarship state that you must be under the age of 22 the first time you receive a Scholarship. As long as you enroll in college and receive your first GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship before you turn 22, you may still be eligible.

  • Can I use the scholarship if I’m going in the military right after high school graduation?

    The Scholarship can only be used to pay for expenses associated with attending college. We can’t award the Scholarship for military service. But you can still use the Scholarship even if you don’t go to college right away. The rules of the Scholarship state that you have to be under the age of 22 the first time you receive a Scholarship. As long as you enroll in college and receive your first GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship before you turn 22, you may still be eligible.