Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)

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Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. What is the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program?
  2. Where can the application be found?
  3. How will applicants be selected to receive grants?
  4. Who can apply for a state grant?
  5. Who can apply for a partnership grant?
  6. May an applicant submit multiple applications?
  7. What is the size of awards for state and partnerships grants in this competition?
  8. Is there a matching requirement for the state and partnerships grants?
  9. Is there any limitation on the amount of indirect costs that grant recipients may charge to GEAR UP grants?
  10. What is the maximum project period for a GEAR UP grant?
  11. What is the cohort model?
  12. What are priority students?
  13. May an eligible entity be a partner in more than one GEAR UP Partnership or State grant?
  14. Do GEAR UP grants have required activities?
  15. Are GEAR UP grantees required to have a scholarship component?

1. What is the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) program?

The GEAR UP program is a discretionary grant program designed to significantly increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

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2. Where can the application be found?

Application packages are downloaded from Grants.gov. There is a range of resources, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions and troubleshooting tips, on the Grants.gov Help page at http://grants.gov/help/help.jsp. An applicant may also contact Grants.gov by telephone or use live chat via the Contact Us page at https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx.

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3. How will applicants be selected to receive grants?

Grantees will be selected through a rigorous peer review process. Selection will be based upon selection criteria stated in the application and published in the Federal Register.

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4. Who can apply for a state grant?

The governor of each state may designate only one agency to apply for and administer a GEAR UP state grant, though states are encouraged to ensure strong collaboration between K-12 and higher education agencies and may choose to have more than one entity deliver the services.

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5. Who can apply for a partnership grant?

A partnership grant application must be submitted on behalf of a partnership consisting of one or more local educational agencies and one or more degree-granting institutions of higher education and not less than two other community organizations or entities such as businesses, professional organizations, or state agencies.

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6. May an applicant submit multiple applications?

An applicant may submit more than one application for a GEAR UP Partnership grant as long as each application proposes to serve a different cohort. State applicants may not submit multiple applications.

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7. What is the size of awards for state and partnerships grants in this competition?

The maximum federal award for state grants is $5,000,000 per year. There is no minimum State grant award. Partnership grants are limited to $800 per student.

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8. Is there a matching requirement for the state and partnerships grants?

Yes. Successful applicants are required to match the federal contribution dollar-for-dollar, that is, the non-federal contribution must equal at least 50 percent of the total six or seven-year project cost.

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9. Is there any limitation on the amount of indirect costs that grant recipients may charge to GEAR UP grants?

Consistent with section 75.562 of Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR), all grant recipients are limited to a maximum indirect cost rate of eight percent of a modified total direct cost base or the amount permitted by its negotiated indirect cost rate agreement, whichever is less.

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10. What is the maximum project period for a GEAR UP grant?

Up to 84 months.

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11. What is the cohort model?

The cohort or whole-grade model involves providing services to all students in the participating grade levels, rather than a selected group of students. By law, a cohort must start no later than the 7th grade, and services must be provided to the students in the cohort through the 12th grade. Each cohort must include either: (1) all of the students in a particular grade level at a participating school that has a 7th grade and in which at least 50 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act; or (2) all of the students in a particular grade level, who reside in public housing, as defined in section 3(b) (1) of the United States Housing Act of 1937.

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12. What are priority students?

Priority students are defined in the law as any student in secondary school who is eligible to be counted under section 1124 (c) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965; eligible for assistance under a State program funded under part A or E of Title IV of the Social Security Act; eligible for assistance under subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; or otherwise considered by the applicant to be a disconnected student.

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13. May an eligible entity be a partner in more than one GEAR UP Partnership or State grant?

Yes. Eligible entities may participate in more than one partnership or state project, as long as services are coordinated, and partners' roles and responsibilities are clear. A state may also serve as one of the partners in a partnership project and receive a state grant at the same time.

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14. Do GEAR UP grants have required activities?

Yes. State and Partnership grantees are required to provide comprehensive mentoring, outreach, and supportive services to participating students. (See 34 CFR 694.21 for a detailed list of required activities for GEAR UP projects).

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15. Are GEAR UP grantees required to have a scholarship component?

GEAR UP State grantees are required to have a scholarship component and must spend 50 percent of the grant funds on scholarships unless granted a waiver.

Partnership grantees may choose to have a scholarship component but are not required to do so.

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Last Modified: 09/29/2014