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What is Upward Bound?

Upward Bound is an intensive pre-college TRiO-funded grant program that works with a small, select group of up to 95 high school students, to increase the likelihood they are successful in graduating high school and going on to meet their higher education goals. We meet with students at their school site weekly to present college preparatory workshops and advisement. Additionally, we provide Saturday workshops monthly, trips to colleges and cultural/educational events, and a 6-week Summer Academy.

How do I apply for Upward Bound?

The student application is located on the tab above. You will need a letter of recommendation, a recent report card/progress report, and medical information. After receiving your application we will reach out to you through email with the next steps.

How much does Upward Bound cost?

Upward Bound is free to participants. All costs are paid for by the US Department of Education and Cal Poly

To be considered for UB, students must:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or in the process of applying; meet income standards set by the federal government OR be a potential first-generation college student (meaning that neither of your parents have earned a four year college degree)
  • (Effective January 11, 2024 until further notice)
1 $22,590 $28,215 $25,965
2 $30,660 $38,310 $35,250
3 $38,730 $48,405 $44,535
4 $46,800 $58,500 $53,820
5 $54,870 $68,595 $63,105
6 $62,940 $78,690 $72,390
7 $71,010 $88,785 $81,675
8 $79,080 $98,880 $90,960

For family units with more than eight members, add the following amount for each additional family member: $8,070 for the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia and outlying jurisdictions; $10,095 for Alaska; and $9,285 for Hawaii.

The term "low-income individual" means an individual whose family's taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150 percent of the poverty level amount.

The figures shown under family income represent amounts equal to 150 percent of the family income levels established by the Census Bureau for determining poverty status. The poverty guidelines were published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Federal Register on January 17, 2024 and are effective as of January 11, 2024.

  1. Be academically able to succeed in higher education

Selected participants are also determined by their ability to demonstrate:

  1. A desire to succeed in higher education
  2. Commitment to participating in the program, meet program goals and complete program requirements
  3. Appropriate, responsible and respectful behavior

Remember, you can't get anything out of a program when you don't put anything in. We promise to make an investment in your education, if you promise to invest your time and energy in Upward Bound

What happens if I do not meet the income level?

Students are accepted based on income level and parents highest education. If a household does not meet the income level, but neither parent has a bachelor’s degree the student can still be accepted in the program

Why must I be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?

UB is funded through tax payer dollars, and it is a legislative requirement.

Do I need to reapply every year?

No, once a student is accepted into the program they are participants until high school graduation unless they are removed from the program for failure to participate, behavior issues, or moving from the target area school. You only need to apply once when you first join the program

What kind of commitments must students make if they wish to apply to the program?

  1. Be enrolled in college preparatory (A-G) courses each semester that will make them eligible for admission to California State University and University of California programs
  2. Maintain satisfactory academic progress in all classes
  3. Meet annually with UB staff for academic advising
  4. Complete all monthly curriculum assignments, forms, and other materials required by UB
  5. Attend UB activities during the school year (field trips, Saturday Sessions or After School Sessions)

What makes Upward Bound so unique?

We recognize that every student is unique. We use an individualized approach in working with them. The commitment from the program is a lengthy one, starting at the time the student enters the program throughout high school

Are Upward Bound students guaranteed admission to Cal Poly? Must Upward Bound students enroll at Cal Poly after high school?

No. While the program is housed at Cal Poly, students are encouraged to attend the college of their choice. If the Upward Bound student chooses to apply to Cal Poly, they must apply for admission and meet admission criteria in order to be accepted

If I am accepted to Upward Bound, will I be allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities at my high school?

We encourage students to participate in extra-curricular activities in their high schools, whether it is sports, clubs, drama or band. Participants can complete curriculum assignments and academic advising appointments online

Do I need to be a high achieving student to be involved in Upward Bound?

Absolutely not. However, you do need to demonstrate a sincere interest in attending college

I understand that there are two components; school year and summer. Must a student participate in both parts?

No. As listed above, students are expected to attend UB activities and meetings during the school year.  Acceptance into the Summer Academy is limited to 40 Upward Bound participants and is highly competitive

What is Summer Academy?

40 of our 10th-12th graders, who are selected based on academic year participation, are able to have a “college like” experience for 6 weeks during the summer. Activities include staying in the Cal Poly residential halls, taking preparatory courses for the upcoming school year, and taking field trips to local sites.

Can I apply for just the summer program?

No, students must participate in the academic year program to be eligible to apply for the summer program.

How can I get more information?

Contact our Program Coordinator Sindy Valle Davila at

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