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Low-Income Iowa Students Receive Restored Aid for College Readiness Program

After raising concerns to the Department of Education about Iowa’s limited access to a federal program, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and all members of the Iowa delegation welcomed the news that thousands of Iowa students will now benefit from over $25 million in estimated federal aid over the next seven years.

Recent issues with the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) application review process caused Iowa to lose out on funding for the past several years. In 2022, Grassley led the entire Iowa delegation in writing the Department of Education to call attention to these problems, and followed up in 2023 to request reforms to the application review process. The Department of Education then committed to making these reforms, opening the doorway for Iowa students to once again receive aid.

In response to the award, Grassley, along with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) and Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa), issued the following statement:

“Iowa students’ commonsense and smarts are an asset in the classroom and beyond. Thanks to the work of local and federal partners, young Iowans from low-income backgrounds will have the tools to flourish academically. We’re proud of the success of Iowa students, and grateful for this federal assistance to help our students continue to grow and achieve.”

Education leaders in the state also applauded the news:

“We are grateful for this federal investment in our work to provide 7,500 students most in-need of support with critical wrap-around services as they meet high expectations in middle school and beyond,” said McKenzie Snow, Director of the Iowa Department of Education. “Alongside schools, postsecondary institutions, and community partners, we will continue to provide students what they need to realize their incredible potential.”


“We thank Governor Reynolds for her leadership in this successful GEAR UP application and the entire Iowa congressional delegation for its support and recognition of our work as crucial to the future success of Iowa and its students,” said Christina Sibaouih, Iowa College Aid Community Engagement Section Chief at the Iowa Department of Education.

GEAR UP is a federal program that helps low-income middle and high school students prepare for higher education. Iowa participants in GEAR UP have historically proven to score higher on their ACTs and more frequently submit complete applications for federal student aid, increasing their chances to attend post-secondary education.


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