May 3, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 2:18 pm

CT lands $32M to prep youths for college

Connecticut will use $31.5 million in federal funds over the next seven years to improve low-income students' access and readiness for college, authorities say.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the grant Thursday from the U.S. Department of Education for the state's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP).

GEAR UP will serve 3,000 students attending 12 middle schools in East Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury through 2019, and will follow these students though middle school, high school and their first year of college, authorities said.

"We need to better understand and break down the barriers Connecticut's students face when they are preparing for higher education," Malloy said in a statement. "Access to higher education is critical not only for these students' own future personal success, but for Connecticut's future economic success as well."

GEAR UP in Connecticut is a partnership between the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education; three higher education institutions in the state - Manchester Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College and Southern Connecticut State University; and their local school districts, including East Hartford Middle School; Michael F. Wallace Middle, North End Middle and West Side Middle School in Waterbury; and eight schools and academies in New Haven.

Grant funds represent about 42 percent of the GEAR UP budget, and about 3 percent, or about $2.5 million, is from private partners, authorities said.

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