WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A premiere think tank on domestic and international issues today called for tripling the federal funding for GEAR UP, the college readiness and preparation program for low income students that stands as the signature legislative achievement of Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02).
The New America Foundation, in a comprehensive report on education and federal student aid, calls GEAR UP – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – "the most promising" of all similar college-access federal programs over the past five decades.
"Since the creation of the Higher Education Act in 1965, federal policymakers have supported multiple programs aimed at raising the college aspirations and improving the academic preparation of disadvantaged students," the report states. "The most promising of these programs is GEAR UP, which provides services using a cohort model aimed at middle and high school students.
"Our plan would triple funding for GEAR UP, while requiring changes in the program to make it more effective," the Foundation advises in its College Outreach section. Many of the changes proposed by New America relate to a more comprehensive approach tied to additional funding.
Fattah is the architect of GEAR UP, which since its enactment in 1998 has prepared 12 million disadvantaged students in 49 states and several U.S. territories for the rigors and challenges of higher education, with about $4 billion in federal resources. For FY2012 Congress appropriated $302 million. The Obama Administration has a strong commitment to the program, which Fattah has fought to maintain and expand as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.
GEAR UP provides college readiness programs starting in the sixth grade for entire classes or grades – referred to as cohorts – where low-income or disadvantaged students predominate.
"GEAR UP creates a college-going culture and fires the dreams of disadvantaged students who otherwise would not consider higher education," Fattah. "And we start young – in the sixth grade – and we cast a wide net, opening those doors of opportunity to entire classrooms and grade levels.
"As we fight for every dollar to improve the life chances of our most under-served and vulnerable young people, it is highly significant that this esteemed group of public policy experts sees the need to increase sharply our investment in GEAR UP," Fattah said. "Our success as a nation, in maintaining leadership in the competitive world economy, depends on these kinds of investments in every single student in all our schools."
The New America Foundation's GEAR UP advocacy is contained in the report Rebalancing Resources and Incentives in Federal Student Aid. It calls for specific changes to grants, loans, tax benefits, college outreach programs and federal regulations to provide more direct aid to the lowest-income students while strengthening accountability for institutions of higher education to ensure that more students are able to earn affordable, high-quality credentials.
The link for the report is: http://newamerica.net/publications/policy/rebalancing_resources_and_incentives_in_federal_student_aid
The New America Foundation link is: http://newamerica.net/about/
SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah