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Johnson Upward Bound

Education by Engagement

Upward Bound at Northern Vermont University-Johnson is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Education that is committed to providing modest-income first generation college bound students the academic background, college preparatory experiences and support needed to succeed in college immediately after high school.

Our program is funded to work with 102 area high school students from 7 area high schools who are required to meet one of the two following criteria: they will be the first in their family to graduate from college, or they are from a low-to-moderate income family. Two thirds of our students must meet both of these requirements.

NVU-Johnson Upward Bound will provide:

  • Free college-bound service
  • College tours/visits offered annually throughout New England
  • Leadership skill development
  • Career development
  • Summer program student stipend
  • Year-round academic support and guidance
  • Six-week academic/residential program on the Johnson campus
  • Paid academic/career internship
  • Annual community service learning projects
  • Waivers for SAT exams, college applications and AP exams
  • Test preparation for SAT exam


Upward Bound is a FREE program for students and families. Learn more about what we do and how to participate below.


Program Director

As a service to you and your family, Upward Bound offers consultation in completing financial aid forms and scholarship applications. All Upward Bound students will complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Students Aid, and the VSAC Vermont Grant Application.

FAFSA and State Forms

All students in their senior year and their parents will be expected to attend our financial aid meeting in October where families will submit both the federal and state forms to ensure the most financial aid they are eligible for. Please be aware that the federal government expects that the benefit of a college education is the responsibility of the students and the parents. Although many of our students have a “0” Expected Family Contribution (EFC), The U.S. Department of Education will determine how much you can afford to pay for college. This will be based on your family’s income and assets.


Upward Bound students do not get scholarships simply because of Upward Bound. However, Upward Bound makes students aware of scholarships for which they are eligible. A scholarship is free money based on how good of a scholar you are! In addition to making students aware of these scholarships, we will also require many students to write essays and apply if we think it will help them in their college quest. Additionally, we will write letters of recommendation for all of our students for both college and scholarships. Here are a few we recommend each year:

Dell Scholarship: Due in January

All Upward Bound seniors are eligible if they have a GPA of 2.4 or higher. This is a renewable scholarship. Learn more at Dell Scholars Program.

Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship: Due in April

All seniors are eligible if they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, but Upward Bound students have a much better chance of being awarded this scholarship because we are a sponsoring organization. Check other eligibility criteria at The Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Upward Bound Senior Challenge/VEOP Scholarship: Due in November

All Upward Bound seniors are eligible for these scholarships. Submit 3 college applications and your VEOP essay before the deadline you will be considered for a $500 scholarship. Winning VEOP essays will go on to a state and potentially regional competition.

VSAC Scholarships: Due in February

VSAC sponsors many scholarships with different eligibility criteria. We will provide VSAC Scholarship books as soon as they are available; you can also find them online.

Upward Bound offers participants a number of unique and challenging opportunities that are available only to Upward Bound and TRiO students. To be considered for participation in these events, you have to work hard academically, complete homework, attend classes regularly, meet with the Upward Bound staff and make it to Upward Bound sponsored events regularly and, whenever necessary and if possible, get tutoring. If you are meeting our expectations, you may be selected to participate in some of the following events.

National TRiO Day Celebration

Whenever possible, Upward Bound sends juniors, accompanied by staff, to a regional conference in February. Selection for this weekend event is based on academic standing, ability to assume responsibility, leadership qualities and desire to attend. This conference allows participants to visit regional colleges and learn about other TRiO programs (UB Math-Science, Talent Search, Student Support Services and GEAR UP).

New England Student Leadership Conference

A three-day event held annually in September at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, VT. Participants are selected based on the ability to assume responsibility, demonstrate leadership qualities and desire to attend. This conference allows participants to learn from and share experiences with other Upward Bound and Talent Search students from New England.

Scholars Bowl

The Green Mountain Scholars Bowl is held annually in the spring. Upward Bound selects teams to join in the friendly competition.  Selection is based on interest, academic standing and continued participation. The prize for the winning teams is scholarship money for their programs.

Sophomore Summit

This is a day long conference for sophomores held at the University of Vermont in the fall. Since this occurs on a school day, sophomores must be in good academic standing to be selected. Students will take a campus tour and sit in on mock lectures.

John F. Kennedy Leadership Conference

This leadership conference takes place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. It brings together TRiO students from all over New England for a day filled with workshops, a tour of the Museum and inspirational guest speakers. This conference usually takes place over April vacation and is open to students who apply.

We are a year-round academic, educational opportunity program with a six-week summer residential program. We are a year-round academic, educational opportunity program with a six-week summer residential program. We work as “academic guidance counselors” providing comprehensive support to maximize student performance and enhance educational opportunities. But the residential component of Upward Bound is what makes our program so effective.

During the summer program, our students will have 4 hours of college preparatory courses, 3 hours of community service and will be surrounded by 49 other college-bound students. In Wheelock residence hall, our students will have tutor counselors, many who were Lyndon Upward Bound students and are now attending or have recently graduated from various colleges around the country. These TC’s are the best role models for our program and help our students to understand the preparation, hard work and commitment that it takes to complete their college degree. You can find more information on the summer program at the end of this handbook.

Rising sophomores will participate in a new student orientation week on the Johnson campus followed by a weeklong leadership trip where they are joined by our rising juniors and rising seniors. Following week two our rising sophomores will return home for the rest of the summer while our rising juniors and seniors complete an additional 5 weeks of programming.

During the summer program our students will have the opportunity to participate in dual enrollment, internships, and service learning opportunities. Program alumni will serve as mentors or as we like to call them, TRA’s (Teaching Residents Assistants). TRA’s are the best role models for our program and help our students to understand the preparation, hard work and commitment that it takes to complete their college degree.

SAT Preparation

You will learn to enhance vocabulary, math reasoning, writing and test taking skills necessary for the SAT test. You will take practice exams during the summer to familiarize yourself with the format and time limitations of the test. You are expected to take the SAT in the spring of your junior year and fall of your senior year.

College Advising

Our primary role as Upward Bound counselors is to provide academic, career, and educational advising along with any personal counseling support as warranted. Services are available year round. Upward Bound Staff will check in with students each month at their high schools.

SAT, PSAT, AP, and College Application Fee Waivers

Every Upward Bound student will receive waivers to take the SAT, the PSAT and up to 5 college application fee waivers. Because these tests are a crucial part of your college portfolio, we expect that every student will take them. We will offer you fee waivers, but we also expect you to copy the results for Upward Bound. For any students that take the AP exams, we will also make sure that these tests are paid for. Colleges will review these test scores and offer you college credit if you do well enough.

Travel Opportunities

We offer field trips and workshops to all Upward Bound students who are in good academic standing. We find that the opportunity to visit colleges has as significant an impact on the sophomore as it does on the senior. However, maintaining good grades and regular school attendance must take priority over Program activity participation. This means students with poor grades and/or high absenteeism should not participate in the Upward Bound school day activities. Student progress is evaluated prior to field trips. Due to financial and/or space considerations, the number of participants may be limited for some field trips, workshops and conferences. All expenses will be covered for students that travel with our program. Our goal is to offer each student opportunities to help better prepare them for success in college. Conference registration, meals, transportation and overnight accommodations will all be covered by our federal grant.


You must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • First generation — You must be from the first generation in your family who will obtain a four-year college degree.
  • Income — Families must have a modest income. Eligibility is based on family unit size and taxable income.
  • Additionally, 2/3 of our accepted students must meet both requirements.

And attend one of our cooperating high schools:

  • North Country Union High School
  • Richford Junior/Senior High School
  • Enosburg Falls High School
  • Missisquoi Valley Union High School
  • Bellows Free Academy- Saint Albans
  • Lamoille Union High School
  • Peoples Academy

Application Process

  1.  Student applies by filling out Personal Information and Essay Questions sections on the application form, download form below.
  2.  Parents complete Family Financial Statement and Transcript Release Form.
  3.  Guidance Counselor completes recommendation, after receiving the signed Transcript Release Form.
  4.  Math, Science, or English teacher completes Teacher Recommendation.
  5.  Completed applications can be sent to Upward Bound or turned in at the high school’s Guidance Office.
  6.  Before returning application, please be sure that signatures are included.
  • Student Interview — An Upward Bound staff member meets with each applicant at their high school to discuss the student’s interest.
  • Parent Interview — An Upward Bound staff member may meet with the applicant’s family at their home or school to discuss the program in depth and answer questions.

Apply to NVU-Johnson Upward Bound

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