GEAR UP Program Saves Parents Thousands on College Tuition

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LA VILLA- A program sponsored by GEAR UP is helping parents save money for the child’s college fund before they graduate high school.

Marina De La Fuente, a junior at La Villa High School, said she’s a year away from attending college. She’s been a GEAR UP student since she was in seventh grade.

“I was first introduced to GEAR UP in seventh grade,” she said. “And I didn't know what it was. All I remember was our principal in the front office jumping up and down, saying, ‘We got GEAR UP.’”

De La Fuente said she was assigned a very enthusiastic GEAR UP facilitator.

“My GEAR UP facilitator… started telling us about all these things that GEAR UP offers, like countless opportunities, field trips, things that informed us about college awareness and getting to a post-secondary education,” De La Fuente said.

Thanks to GEAR UP, De La Fuente is able to take college course while attending high school. This will save her parents a lot of money in the future.

“I remember when I was coming from middle school to the high school,” the student said. “We had just become an early college. They were offering me dual enrollment classes. GEAR UP and my facilitator were the reasons I started taking these classes.”

De La Fuente’s GEAR UP facilitator made sure she didn’t miss out.

“My GEAR UP facilitator was always on my back,” she said. “I’m not going to receive a lot of financial help, so I get free books here, free tuition. It’s going to help me a lot. So I think it’s a weight off my parents’ shoulders, as well.”

De La Fuente’s parents are happy for the opportunities that have come her way.

“They are really proud of me,” she said. “And they are glad that I was given this opportunity to take all these classes. I have a brother in college and they are paying. So with me taking these classes, they are going to have to worry less about paying for his and my tuition.”

De La Fuente said she’s all set to attend Texas A&M University to become an engineer.