December 12, 2001
Dr. J. Michael Mullen
West Virginia Higher Education
1018 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25301
Dear Dr. Mullen:
Thank you for your letter to President Bush urging funding increases for GEAR UP and other postsecondary programs that the Department of Education administers to help students from disadvantaged families prepare for and succeed in college. I have been asked to respond on the President's behalf.
While we have not made any decisions regarding budget policy for FY 2003 or beyond, we will continue to give priority to programs that are effective in achieving the President's goal of closing the gap in educational opportunities. The President's request for the GEAR UP program for FY 2002, $227 million, fully supports all currently funded cohorts of students and allows an additional 144,000 students to be served. This request is currently pending before Congress.
As you know, under GEAR UP, States and partnerships provide early intervention services to whole grades of students as they move through middle and high schools, and they provide financial assistance so GEAR UP students can successfully pursue a postsecondary education. GEAR UP funding has increased by nearly 150 percent in only two years -- from $120 million in 1999 to $295 million in 2001. We are now serving more than 970,000 students in 45 States, due in large part to the commitment of hundreds of universities, businesses, and community organizations, as you mention. To determine whether GEAR UP is achieving its purposes and warrants additional resources, we have committed $4.2 million to an evaluation of the program.
As we develop our budget for FY 2003, we will continue to look at programs like GEAR UP, TRIO, Pell Grants, and others in an effort to determine how Federal funds can be best used to serve disadvantaged students.
William D. Hansen