GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a national, federally funded grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP is a partnerships of schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, designed to empower partner schools and students.

Utah State University STARS! was awarded its first seven-year grant in 2012 from the U.S. Department of Education to provide student services. Additional grants were awarded to the program in 2015, 2017, and 2018. These four awards total $64 million with schools and partners matching an equal amount to support programming in schools. 

GEAR UP partners include under-resourced schools located in both urban and rural settings in Utah. They serve an entire grade band, or cohort, of students at a school, starting in seventh grade and continuing to work with the same students through the first year of college. Site coordinators at each school work with administrators and staff to plan activities that meet the needs of their community, such as include college visits, financial aid awareness nights for parents and students, tutoring and academic support, and college and career fairs.   

The USU STARS! GEAR UP office and partners support professional development and summer programs for schools and staff. Utah State University administers the GEAR UP partnership grants through the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services as part of the Center for the School of the Future and the School of Teacher Education & Leadership.

Current USU STARS! GEAR UP Grants

  • GEAR UP Grant Two - 2015-2023, 899 first-year college students*
  • GEAR UP Grant Three - 2017-2024, 3,600 students
  • GEAR UP Grant Four - 2018-2025, 4,481 students
    * projected in the 2022-2023 school year