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W.Va. gets $21 million for college prep programs

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By Mackenzie Mays 
The Charleston Gazette

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded West Virginia $21 million to help prepare students for college and the workforce.

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant will support college planning and readiness services across 10 counties in the state, serving 17,000 students over the next several years, according to the state Higher Education Policy Commission.

The GEAR UP program urges students to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or a trade certificate after high school, and supports services such as college tours, ACT and SAT test preparation and tutoring.

West Virginia was one of 29 states awarded funding on Monday to help low-income and at-risk students across the country prepare for life after high school.

The Department of Education awarded a total of $82 million in GEAR UP grants.

This is West Virginia’s third GEAR UP award.

Students in middle and high schools in Boone, Fayette, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Summers, Webster, Wirt and Wyoming counties will benefit from the new grant.

Students in the class of 2020 in those districts will receive services from their seventh grade year through their freshman year of college.

“The GEAR UP program has been recognized nationally as one of the most promising pathways to increasing the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in education and training beyond high school,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a news release. “The grant application process is highly competitive, and West Virginia’s award is a testament to the innovative work that is occurring in our state to ensure that all students have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of earning a college diploma.”

For more information, visit http://wvgearup.org/.