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Students can gear-up for college

New scholarship program

   June 11, 2003 --   Money for college will be offered to Jefferson County students beginning next fall through a new program called GEAR UP, coordinated by retired 509-J teacher Steve Rankin.
   Oregon has received a federal grant of $6.2 million for the GEAR UP program, and 16 rural counties, including Jefferson County, have been chosen as program sites.
   Because of the way Getting Early Awareness Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) works, only next fall's freshmen and eighth-graders will be eligible for the college funds. Oregon's grant money will be placed in an account to earn interest, and by the time those students are seniors an estimated $4,400 per year will be available for them to use for higher education.
   "We hope this will be a carrot to encourage kids that come from families that don't have the money for college," Rankin said.
   The GEAR UP scholarships will be good to use at four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, technical schools and trade schools.
   Rankin's job will be to make students aware of the required courses and grade point average they must have to get into colleges and trade schools.
   To get into today's colleges, high school students must take at least three years of math, two years of a foreign language, three years of science, four years of English, and take SAT exams.
   "My job is to be a cheerleader and advocate for students to work hard and for parents to support their students to go on to college," Rankin said.
   He is trying to make people aware of the program now, and next fall will visit students in their guide rooms to talk about the GEAR UP program. He will also be offering SAT classes to help students do better on the test.
   Flyers will be mailed out to parents this summer explaining about the program. For information contact Rankin at 475-6716.