Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs ( GEAR UP) is a discretionary grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. GEAR UP seeks to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
The NJ GEAR UP State Project was awarded to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education in 1999, 2005, 2011, 2019. In its efforts to prepare students for college, the project works with students, families, and teachers in 70 middle and high schools in nine urban centers including Atlantic City, Bridgeton, Camden, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, Penns Grove Carneys Point, Pleasantville, and Trenton.
Eight higher education partner institutions, which include Mercer County Community College (Trenton), New Jersey City University (Jersey City), New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark), Passaic County Community College (Paterson), Rowan University of South Jersey (Bridgeton), Rowan University (Camden), Stockton University (Atlantic City and Pleasantville) and Salem Community College (Penns Grove Carneys Point) assist students in 7th – 12th with graduating from high school and encouraging students to obtain college degrees by providing: after-school and Saturday tutoring, summer programs, mentoring, counseling, test preparation, information about financial aid, and access to college visits. The initiative also emphasizes the importance of taking rigorous high school courses to prepare for postsecondary education. NJ GEAR UP also provides professional development for educators within GEAR UP target schools.
NJ GEAR UP students are also eligible for the state’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program.
New Jersey's financial aid agency, the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), partners with NJ GEAR UP to provide financial information about how to pay for college in New Jersey.
Parents, teachers and school administrators of NJ GEAR UP students benefit as well. Parents receive early information about postsecondary education options and availability of financial aid, while teachers, counselors and administrators receive professional development in core content areas such as Algebra and Chemistry