In the News

Dr. Mark Heinrich, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, has not only pledged to provide college tuition waivers to the 9,300 seventh and eighth grade students that make up the inaugural cohort of GEAR UP Alabama (GUA), but Chancellor Heinrich has extended the same courtesy to the legal guardians of GUA students. He states, “We are excited to partner with GEAR UP Alabama by providing full scholarships to the Class of 2020 and 2021 to attend any public community or technical college in the state of Alabama who meet the specified criteria for college admission. Moreover, we are committed to providing tuition assistance to parents of GEAR UP Alabama cohort students who qualify for admissions”.

The “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” (GEAR UP) initiative focuses on helping students pursue education and training beyond high school, including trade certificate programs, two-year degree programs and four-year degree programs. GUA is a state-wide initiative coordinated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Over the next seven years, 50 Alabama schools, in 21 school districts and 17 counties across the Alabama Black Belt, will participate in the effort.

“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 achieve success in their education and training beyond high school,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “This grant will help build a solid foundation for our children and will set them up to succeed, by being better prepared for post-secondary education and to join the workforce”.

GEAR UP Alabama has been busy this school year preparing students for post-secondary options by providing academic workshops, tutoring, leadership development, career development activities, mentoring, financial aid workshops and college preparation summer academies. While legal guardians have been engaged in financial literacy and personal wellness classes, GUA is now offering post-secondary preparedness workshops in hopes they will accept the tuition waiver and begin taking classes as early as this summer.

To kick off the program Wallace Community College will host a “ACCS-GUA Parent Scholar Night” on Tuesday, Feb. 16 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Selma. During the event parents will learn more about the tuition waiver and support systems in place to assist them with gaining admissions into the ACCS school of their choice, including GED preparation. Parents will also have an opportunity to visit booths set up for one-on-one conversations with representatives from each technical and academic department, as well as admissions and financial aid staff.

This marks the first time Alabama has received a State GEAR UP grant from the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more about GEAR UP Alabama and view a list of participating middle schools, visit