Illinois Steps AHEAD GEAR UP

The GEAR UP STEPS AHEAD Scholarship program began in 2006 and ended in June 2012. You may be eligible for a GEAR UP scholarship if you meet all of the criteria listed below:

  • Participated in the GEAR UP program at one of the funded programs for at least 2 consecutive school years
  • Graduated from high school
  • You are under the age of 22 years of age before your first application for the scholarship
  • Received acceptance into a degree granting institution, proprietary institution of higher education, or a trade or technical school



Illinois Steps AHEAD assisted families, schools, and communities to engage and motivate low-income students to attend and succeed in higher education.


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Illinois Steps AHEAD (ISA) is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Education and was designed to increase the number of low-income students who are academically prepared and ready to succeed and complete a post-secondary education. 

The program works with students from low-income families in 20 urban and rural areas of the state.  Illinois Steps AHEAD is a six-year program that begins with students in middle school and follows them through high school graduation and enrollment in post-secondary education.