Cornyn, Manchin Introduce Bill to Improve College & Career Readiness Grant Program


In: All News   Posted 01/31/2019
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The GEAR UP for Success Act improves the GEAR UP Program by increasing state and local flexibility to better meet students’ needs. 

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), today introduced the GEAR Up for Success Act. This legislation would improve the GEAR UP federal grant program by giving grant recipients increased flexibility to cater to local students’ needs, reducing administrative burdens for grant recipients, and ensuring a more fair and competitive application process.

“Our local schools should be able to use grants to cater specifically to their students’ needs,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This legislation will bring even greater local control in the GEAR UP program, from which many students in Texas have already benefited. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure students don’t fall behind, improve college completion rates, and ensure decisions rest with those who know our students best.”

“Preparing students to pursue higher education is necessary if we as a nation are to have a civilly engaged, world changing generation of citizens,” Sen. Manchin said. “During the 2017-18 academic year, West Virginia GEAR UP students spent more than 39,000 hours engaged in activities that promote academic achievement, career exploration, college awareness and ultimately increased participation in postsecondary education. I am proud to introduce this measure and am excited to see how these West Virginians and Americans will shape our world into an even better one than we already have.”

“GEAR UP and its strong network of colleges, high schools, and middle schools help young people develop the confidence to take advantage of the opportunities awaiting them,” said Sen. Collins.  GEAR UP serves thousands of Maine students in more than 50 schools across the state, providing individuals with the resources they need to further their education.  I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to reauthorize this important program.”

Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX-23) and Susan Davis (D-CA-53) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sen. Cornyn announced his plan to introduce the GEAR Up for Success Act last week at a roundtable discussion with local superintendents, as well as education and community leaders, in Harlingen, Texas. 

Background:

The GEAR Up for Success Act would amend the Higher Education Opportunity Act to:

  • Give school districts and other local entities increased flexibility to design programs to address local needs;
  • Empower state and local leadership on the GEAR UP scholarship component;
  • Improve GEAR UP research and evaluation at the local and national levels;
  • Reduce administrative burdens for GEAR UP grantees; and
  • Close loopholes to ensure a fair and competitive application process.

The GEAR UP Program is a competitive grant program that helps low-income and historically underrepresented students achieve college and career readiness, improve high school graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates, and raise awareness of postsecondary options among student and families.  GEAR UP engages students early, accelerates their readiness through supplemental programs, and expands the capacity of schools to create “college going” cultures.

Nationally, GEAR UP outcomes have shown positive student gains for participating students. GEAR UP students graduate from high school at a higher rate than their peers – regardless of ethnicity or income – and attend college at a higher rate.

Texas students have benefitted from $885 million in GEAR UP grants in the past 20 years.