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Vt. congressional delegation announces $31 million GEAR UP grant for VSAC

Federal education grant will serve 2,800+ students at 38 Vermont schools

WINOOSKI (October 12, 2018) — The Vermont congressional delegation, led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), today announced that Vermont Student Assistance Corp. will receive $31 million over the next seven years to encourage more Vermont students to continue their education and training after high school.

In a visit to VSAC with students from Colchester and Winooski high schools, Leahy, who is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the GEAR UP grant makes it possible for more Vermonters to get the skills and education they will need for their future careers.

“I’ve led efforts in Congress to widen access to higher education by funding the GEAR UP program, boosting Pell Grant funding and streamlining the FAFSA to provide more financial aid,” Leahy said.

“Vermont’s GEAR UP program, led by the talented counselors from VSAC, offers students and families the tools and information they need – and deserve – to build career opportunities. It’s why I have led the fight to preserve GEAR UP funding.”

VSAC has been home to the GEAR UP program since its inception in 1999. This new grant will reach over 2,800 students in 38 schools across the state, and includes hundreds of GEAR UP students in their first year of college.

“This grant is great news for Vermont students and their opportunity to continue their education,” said Scott Giles, VSAC president and CEO. “I thank Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch for their continued efforts to make education equity a reality for all Vermonters. Access to education and training after high school is an essential component of reversing income inequality and creating career opportunities that will last a lifetime.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said access to affordable higher education should be open to all regardless of background.

“At a time when postsecondary education is more important than ever to get a decent-paying job, we must do everything possible to make sure every student has the information they need to further their education,” Sanders said. “Programs like GEAR UP prepare low-income and first-generation students for the education and training they need to be ready for the skilled jobs of the future. Because in the richest country in the world, everyone who has the ability and the desire should be able to get a higher education.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) has championed efforts in the U.S. House to improve accessibility and affordability in higher education. His bipartisan leadership has resulted in making federal financial aid more accessible and providing opportunity to more Vermonters.

"The skills and confidence that GEAR UP gives students will follow them well into the future. The opportunities are there for them to create strong educational pathways,” Welch said.

GEAR UP programming provides 1:1 and group counseling for Vermont students in grades 7 through the first year of college, including academic skill-building, study skills, class advising and tutoring as needed. Students receive information on career exploration, the college search and application assistance as well as in-depth financial aid information and help with submitting all aid forms. Students enrolled in the program also visit colleges and participate in summer programs.

GEAR UP students who enroll in education and technical training programs after high school also receive a special GEAR UP scholarship for up to four years.

More information on the Vermont state GEAR UP program is at

About VSAC – Changing Lives through Education and Training since 1965

Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is a public, nonprofit agency established by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 to help Vermonters achieve their education and training goals after high school. VSAC serves students and their families in grades 7-12, as well as adults returning to school, by providing education and career planning services, need-based grants, scholarships and education loans. VSAC has awarded more than $600 million in grants and scholarships for Vermont students, and also administers Vermont’s 529 college savings plan. Share your VSAC story by email to or submit a video to YouTube. Find us at or check in on Facebook and Twitter. #changing lives