Senator Collins Joins Bipartisan Group in Introducing Bill to Improve College & Career Readiness Grant Program

The GEAR UP for Success Act improves the GEAR UP Program by increasing state and local flexibility to better meet students’ needs.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the GEAR UP for Success Act.  This legislation would improve the GEAR UP federal grant program by giving grant recipients increased flexibility to cater to local students’ needs, reducing administrative burdens for grant recipients, and ensuring a more fair and competitive application process.  Senator Collins was joined by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in introducing the bill.


“GEAR UP and its strong network of colleges, high schools, and middle schools help young people develop the confidence to take advantage of the opportunities awaiting them,” said Senator Collins.  “GEAR UP serves thousands of Maine students in more than 50 schools across the state, providing individuals with the resources they need to further their education.  I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to reauthorize this important program.”


GEAR UP Maine has more than 50 school partners located in Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Oxford, Somerset, and Washington counties.


“With Senator Collins’ leadership on the GEAR UP for Success Act we will be able to better meet the educational needs of the state and expand opportunity for many more students,” said Mary Callan, Project Director, GEAR UP Maine.  “GEAR UP inspires thousands of Maine students from our most rural, isolated communities to set career and postsecondary goals and supports them to make successful transitions. GEAR UP provides them with academic support and exposure to educational pathways that will lead to rewarding careers right here in Maine!”


“The GEAR UP for Success Act of 2019 will substantially improve the quality and effectiveness of the GEAR UP programs, helping more students and families in Maine and across the nation succeed in higher education. We are grateful that Senator Collins along with her cosponsors have done a remarkable job listening to the needs of GEAR UP leaders and have produced a bill that will propel the program forward for many years to come,” said Ranjit Sidhu, President and CEO, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships.


Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX-23) and Susan Davis (D-CA-53) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.


The GEAR Up for Success Act would amend the Higher Education Opportunity Act to:


  • Give school districts and other local entities increased flexibility to design programs to address local needs;
  • Empower state and local leadership on the GEAR UP scholarship component;
  • Improve GEAR UP research and evaluation at the local and national levels;
  • Reduce administrative burdens for GEAR UP grantees; and
  • Close loopholes to ensure a fair and competitive application process.


The GEAR UP Program is a competitive grant program that helps low-income and historically underrepresented students achieve college and career readiness, improve high school graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates, and raise awareness of postsecondary options among student and families.  GEAR UP engages students early, accelerates their readiness through supplemental programs, and expands the capacity of schools to create “college going” cultures.


Nationally, GEAR UP outcomes have shown positive student gains for participating students. GEAR UP students graduate from high school at a higher rate than their peers – regardless of ethnicity or income – and attend college at a higher rate.