Nine colleges receive grants to support GEAR UP Iowa students


Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257

Schools will guide students from low-income districts as they transition from high school

Iowa College Aid announced today that nine colleges and universities in Iowa will receive $929,289 in GEAR UP Iowa Year 7 College Partner Grants.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal program that prepares low-income students to succeed in college. Iowa College Aid administers GEAR UP in Iowa, working with 12 school districts to provide college access services and scholarships. GEAR UP Iowa follows students from 7th grade through their first year in college. Most current GEAR UP Iowa students are in the high school class of 2020 and will enter college next fall.

Partner Grants provide resources to colleges and universities so they can support GEAR UP Iowa students as they make the transition from high school. Services will begin in June 2020 and include “summer bridge” activities for the summer between high school and college, academic and career counseling, mentoring, and family engagement. The main goal of Partner Grants is to help students persist from the first year of college to the second.

“These support services will be crucial as our GEAR UP Iowa students enter college,” said Karen Misjak, Executive Director of Iowa College Aid. “Many are the first in their family to go to college, so they’re navigating new territory. We’ve been with these students for nearly six years, and we’ll stay with them for a seventh year to be sure they make a successful start in higher education.”

Current GEAR UP Iowa students will be the first to receive support services through the first year of college; the initial GEAR UP Iowa cohort, the high school class of 2014, received services from 7th through 12th grades. The GEAR UP Iowa Year 7 partnership involves all sectors of higher education and is the largest such effort by any state GEAR UP grant in the United States. “This is sure to be a model for other programs around the nation,” Misjak said.

These institutions will receive Partner Grants:

  • University of Northern Iowa, $50,000
  • University of Iowa, $214,500
  • Iowa State University, $215,000
  • Drake University, $12,224
  • Simpson College, $11,341
  • Grand View University, $30,000
  • Indian Hills Community College, $71,500
  • Des Moines Area Community College, $212,224
  • Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, $112,500

Learn more about GEAR UP Iowa at