Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State has been awarded a $22.4 million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant by the U.S. Department of Education, to help low-income and at-risk students receive college readiness preparation and support beginning in seventh grade and continuing through high school. The State was additionally awarded a seventh year of funding to further support students in the program through their first year of college.
"By providing more young New Yorkers with the tools for academic achievement now, their chances for future success dramatically increase, benefiting them and the state as a whole," Governor Cuomo said. "With this funding, thousands of students will better succeed in higher education and become prepared for the high demanding jobs of the future."
Targeting middle school students from districts with low high-school graduation rates, the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program will raise students' awareness of college and financial aid options, increase participation in academically challenging coursework, and support them through completion of their college freshman year.
Participating school districts will also have the opportunity to count their students among the thousands who prepare for high skills jobs of the future through the NYS Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools program -- which combines high school, college and career training focused on the knowledge and skills students need for science, technology, engineering and math careers, targeted to at-risk, disadvantaged students.
Elsa Magee, Acting President of Higher Education Services Corporation and the administering agency for the award, said, "As one of only 10 states awarded this grant, we have a unique opportunity to implement programs and services that are proven to raise the level of college and career readiness of our most at-risk students. We look forward to working with the schools, local organizations and business partners to serve a student population that may not otherwise be equipped to compete successfully in today's global economy."
Partners who will provide services in their areas of expertise include the State University of New York, City University of New York, College Board and the NYS Financial Aid Administrators Association. However, direct services will largely be provided by competitively-selected non-profit service providers. Collaborating partners will include a wide variety of State and non-profit contributors who will participate in assisting students throughout the program.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said, "Every student in New York deserves a quality education so they can have a bright future. Providing New York's middle school students with the resources and support needed to complete high school and enroll in college, will help bridge the gap for students - so they can reach their full potential. This much needed funding will also help prepare our children for the jobs of the future, so New York can maintain its competiveness in the 21st century global economy and keep a skilled workforce in the region."
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey said, "Education is key to success and can open many doors for children looking to make a difference in their lives and communities. These Department of Education grants will help young New Yorkers better prepare for college and compete for the jobs of tomorrow. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue fighting for increased education funding to ensure the education needs of New Yorkers are met."
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy said, "As a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I have fought to ensure that our most vulnerable students get the opportunity to receive a higher education and succeed in the workforce. Continued education and skills training are vital in the global economy, and today's announcement is another strong step forward in preparing many of our most vulnerable students with the ability to succeed in life. I applaud Governor Cuomo's leadership in helping secure the GEAR UP grant, which will help countless students in my District, and across the State of New York, reach their full potential and become productive members of society."
Congressman Tim Bishop said, "Ensuring our students are college-and career-ready has never been more critical than in today's hyper-competitive job market. GEAR UP is a notable example of how the federal government can work in tandem with state governments and local education agencies to help prepare low-income students for success in postsecondary education and beyond. I am proud to have been part of the push to reauthorize the GEAR UP program in 2009 and I will continue to promote GEAR UP and other federal programs aimed at increasing disadvantaged students' secondary school completion and postsecondary enrollment. I applaud Governor Cuomo, NY GEAR UP, and the U.S. Department of Education for making this critical investment in the future of so many New Yorkers."
Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, "A college education continues to be the best path toward a secure future. Youngsters need to understand this early enough in their school careers in order to be prepared for college. This grant will go a long way toward assisting low income students in getting ready to step up."
Detailed information about NYGEAR UP is available at HESC.ny.gov/NYGEARUP.
About Higher Education Services Corporation
Higher Education Services Corporation is New York State's student financial aid agency that helps people pay for college and a national leader in providing need based grant and scholarship award money to college-going students. It offers core programs like the Tuition Assistance Program, numerous state scholarships, federal college access grants and a highly successful College Savings program. HESC puts college within the reach of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year through programs like these and through the guidance it provides to students, families and counselors. In 2012-13, HESC helped more than 342,000 students achieve their college dreams by providing more than $979.4 million in grants, scholarships and loan forgiveness benefits, including $931 million awarded through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).