Montana GEAR UP
(Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)

Montana GEAR UP believes that postsecondary education is possible for all Montana students, regardless of economic background. Montana GEAR UP supports schools, students, and their families to increase students’ college and career readiness through academic preparedness, postsecondary planning, and financial aid knowledge so that they may succeed in their education beyond high school.

What we do

Student and School Services: 

  • Partners with 18 middle and receiving high schools from around the state, 13 of which are located on or near Montana’s seven American Indian reservations, to improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates.

  • Serves students in grades seven through twelve, providing college and career readiness services, such as tutoring, financial aid information, dual enrollment, college applications, enrollment in rigorous academic courses, comprehensive mentoring, college visits, supplemental curriculum materials, summer programming, and professional development for school staff. 

  • Works with colleges and universities to support GEAR UP college freshman with their transition to and retention in college. 

  • By the end of the seven year grant, more than 8800 students, including 5800 American Indian students, will have participated in the program.

State Services:

  • Fund the ACT + Writing test for all Montana public high school juniors.

  • Support for Montana Common Core Standards implementation.

  • Implement Montana College Application Week campaign.

  • Support Graduation Matters Montana initiatives.

  • Funding for the annual Montana School Counselor Association Conference, Montana Indian Education for All conference, and the Montana College Access Network.


The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Montana Office of Commissioner of Higher Education a seven-year, $28 million GEAR UP grant in September 2018. (Montana was also awarded grants in 1999, 2005 and 2011)

Quick Facts

Montana GEAR UP:

*Serves Students in 7-12th grades at 18 middle schools and their receiving high schools to improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates.

*Partners with postsecondary institutions to support GEAR UP college freshman with their transition to and retention in college.

*Will serve 8,800 students, including 5,800 American Indian Students, by the end of the grant.

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Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
560 N. Park Ave. • PO Box 203201 • Helena, Montana 59620-3201 • Phone 406.449.9140 • FAX 406.449.9171 •

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