Upward Bound helps selected high school students get better prepared to succeed in college. In a warm and nurturing environment on a college campus, participants receive numerous educational advantages. About 774 Upward Bound Programs across the nation serve college-bound high school students. St. Mary’s University has hosted Upward Bound since 1967.

What is Upward Bound?

Upward Bound is one of several educational opportunity programs referred to as TRIO Programs (initially there were three) funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of TRIO Programs is to increase enrollment and graduation from college among underrepresented populations. Funded by Congress under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and administered by the U.S. Department of Education, more than 1,000 universities, community colleges and agencies offer TRIO Programs throughout the United States. TRIO programs help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education. Graduates of TRIO Programs are working in business, industry, government, medicine, law, education, communications, sales, finance, politics, transportation, publishing, law enforcement, computer science and technology, engineering and accounting

How Does Upward Bound Work?

If selected for participation in Upward Bound, students and their parents or guardians must make a commitment for the participant to make satisfactory academic progress, actively participate in the program each academic year and summer session, and remain in the program until the completion of the bridge summer following high school graduation.

Academic Year Sessions

During each academic year, participants participate in a fun-filled learning experience on the campus of St. Mary’s University on Saturday afternoons from October through May. College preparatory activities include valuable opportunities to advance in core academic areas including literature, composition, a laboratory science, mathematics, a foreign language as well as electives such as college planning and financial aid, study skills, leadership skills, music, art, etc. Other services offered may include guidance with respect to educational and career opportunities, tutoring and field trips. Participants may receive bus tickets to cover the cost of their transportation to and from campus.

Summer Sessions

Each summer, participants are provided an exciting, simulated college-going experience for six weeks (Monday through Friday) at St. Mary’s University. Participants who have demonstrated academic excellence, regular attendance throughout their enrollment in Upward Bound as well as responsible and mature behavior may become eligible to reside in the residence halls supervised by competent staff. The residential living experience is also contingent upon the availability of sufficient funds. Upon completion of the bridge program, participants may enroll in the college of their choice beginning the fall semester following high school graduation.

Bridge Component

During the summer immediately following high school graduation, participants who meet high academic and attendance standards may enroll in one or more college courses for credit based on availability of funds. In this manner, participants may receive a head start upon entrance to the college of their choice. In addition, this benefit provides participants an opportunity to test their readiness for college while still under the caring supervision of the Upward Bound faculty and staff. After completion of the bridge component, participants enroll in the college of their choice and are encouraged to maintain annual contact with the Upward Bound Office until completion of college so that the rate of college retention can be measured and further encouragement and support offered as considered appropriate.

Why Upward Bound?

Recent research clearly shows that students, who complete the Upward Bound program, are four times more likely to earn an undergraduate degree than their peers from similar backgrounds, who did not participate in this premier college preparatory program. Upward Bound’s successful impact results from personalized instruction and guidance by teachers and staff, who care and can communicate well with students; small class sizes; student involvement; and quality services.

Upward Bound provides answers to questions that participants and their families may have about pursuing a college education. Participants visit various college campuses while enrolled in Upward Bound and obtain valuable information concerning options for various opportunities within higher education. Upward Bound offers assistance to participants with the completion and submission of college admissions and financial aid applications, financial aid need analysis form (FAFSA), college entrance examinations (ACT/SAT), scholarship applications, etc.

Upward Bound provides fee waivers to participants to offset the cost of the ACT/SAT registration fee as well as waivers in lieu of application fees for the college admissions process. Although Upward Bound does not directly provide financial aid for college, the staff assists each participant toward obtaining college financial aid.

If selected for participation, all educational expenses related to enrollment in Upward Bound, including the costs of tuition, fees, residence hall, meals, field trips, books, supplies and transportation are fully paid by the St. Mary’s University Upward Bound Program. Participants who meet high standards of excellence may become eligible to receive a stipend to serve as an incentive for maintaining high academic achievement and regular attendance to all program activities.

Apply to Upward Bound

Students must meet the following requirements:

  • Submit a completed application with signatures of parent(s)/guardian(s) and the student, accompanied by a high school transcript prior to the established deadline;
  • Show evidence of strong potential to do college work;
  • Demonstrate evidence of a passionate desire to attend college until graduation;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to pursue a career that requires a college degree;
  • Demonstrate an academic need for the services provided by Upward Bound;
  • Provide verifiable evidence that the family’s financial income does not exceed federal limits (a signed Form 1040 is required if parent(s)/guardian(s) were employed;
  • during the most recent tax year for which statements are filed) and/or that neither parent has earned a Baccalaureate degree;
  • Provide verifiable evidence of U.S. citizenship or classification as a permanent U.S. resident;
  • Verify enrollment in the 9th, 10th or 11th grade with a target high school served by Upward Bound upon entry to the Program;
  • Demonstrate a genuine commitment to attend all program activities on a regular basis year round, that is, during both the academic year and summer sessions, until the summer following high school graduation; and
  • Demonstrate a commitment from the applicant’s parent(s)/guardian(s) to support the goals of the program

How to apply:

  1. Download and complete an Upward Bound application with signatures of parent(s)/guardian(s) and the student.
  2. Print the application.
  3. Have the application signed by both the (A) applicant and (B) parent or legal guardian.
  4. Scan the signed application and upload it to this form, along with an Income Verification and a Teacher or Counselor Recommendation.
  5. When the application has been received, you will receive a response from the Upward Bound Office.

Contact Upward Bound at St. Mary’s

Jacqueline Dansby, Ph.D., Executive Director at 210-436-3206.

Back to top