The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is using nearly $14 million over the next five years to help high school students learn how to be college ready.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, (D-Laredo) helped secure nine federal grants totaling nearly $14 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Upward Bound Program, which assists disadvantaged individuals prepare for higher education.

“Upward Bound is to help low income first generation students that may not have an opportunity in high school, to start thinking about college to help them with their college preparation fees and get them ready to go to college,” Cuellar said.

UTRGV will award around $3 million every school year beginning in September. The funds from UTRGV will be used to support existing Upward Bound Programs in Hidalgo and Cameron County and will create new programs in Rio Grande City, La Grulla, Lyford, Port Isabel and Raymondville.

“68 percent of our students are pell grant eligible,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey. “That means they have very little family contribution, and about 80 percent of students pay no tuition or fees, so we are serving a large underserved population. That’s our mission, and that’s our goal.”

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) also helped secure more than $4 million in funds that will be used to help students at Mission, Edcouch-Elsa and Economedes high schools.