State receives federal grant to help first-generation college students

Hampden County

October is “College Awareness Month” in Springfield, and on Monday, senior students got to attend the Go Higher College Fair at the Basketball Hall of Fame. 

“I think college is very important because I’ll learn things that I really need to know for what I want to do,” said Central High School Senior Pazazz Spencer. 

It was hosted by Gear Up, which is part of the state’s Department of Higher Education that serves low-income students and their families in seven of the most impoverished areas in the commonwealth. And today, Gear Up announced a 7-year, nearly $30 million federal grant to help first-generation students get to college. 

“Many of their families are unaware of the college-going process,” said Robert Dais, the statewide director of Gear Up Massachusetts. “They work hard, they help their students, but they can’t help them if they don’t understand the process.” 

Harryanne Pi, another senior at Central H.S., told 22News she will be the first in her family to attend college when she goes in the fall. 

“Either they didn’t have good enough grades, or they just couldn’t afford it,” said Pi. 

Gear Up told 22News that part of the grant will be used to make sure every high school senior in Springfield has the opportunity to complete a college application. 

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