GEAR UP students are celebrated at half court during a Celtics game.

Educational Opportunity Center

The Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) is a federally funded TRIO program that helps adults and high school seniors begin or continue their postsecondary education. EOC offers educational access services to low-income individuals and potential college students. While the majority of EOC’s clients seek financial aid assistance, other services available to participants include academic and career advising, college searches, admissions application assistance, student loan counseling and referrals to additional supportive services. 

EOC services focus primarily on individuals who are low-income and are seeking more education and training.  EOC staff members provide professional assistance tailored to individual needs and circumstances. 

The Educational Opportunity Center can help participants: 

  • Explore career options and programs of study 
  • Decide where to study 
  • Find and apply for student financial aid 
  • Find ways to overcome barriers to education 
  • Solve problems with student loans 

Eligibility:

Primarily, but not restricted to, low-income adults who are potential first generation college students or students with a limited income (150% of federal poverty level)

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs)

GEAR UP is a VOC program administered in cooperation with Massachusetts Education and Career Opportunities, Inc. (MassEdCo), the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. 

Approximately 2,000 students in grades 8-12 are served at six participating sites in Springfield and Holyoke, MA.  At each site, GEAR UP Advisors/Coordinators counsel middle and high school students on the importance of higher education while advising them to have high expectations, study hard, stay in school, and take the correct courses to go on to college. 

GEAR UP offers a wide range of services including: in or after-school tutoring; college and educational field trips; attendance and retention programs; faculty support/professional development; parent/guardian financial literacy workshops; MCAS, SAT and ACT preparation; assistance with the entire college and financial aid process; career assessment; and 9th grade transition programs, mentoring programs, and one-on-one advising. 

All GEAR UP students are also eligible for a scholarship worth up to $1,000, which is renewable for four years. 

Eligibility:

GEAR UP uses both a cohort and priority model. We anticipate welcoming a new 7th grade cohort in 2018.   GEAR UP advisors provide services to the cohort students throughout middle school and into high school, as long as they attend a GEAR UP high school.  For the priority model, students at a GEAR UP high school who meet the income-based eligibility requirements can enroll at any point prior to their senior year.  GEAR UP advisors will also follow the students into their first year of college. 

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