FAYETTE, Iowa (November 13, 2009)—Upper Iowa University made a bold decision this week related to the State’s recommendation to reduce the Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG). UIU will provide additional University financial support to cover any shortfall in the ITG for approx. 900 of its students receiving the grant for the 2009-10 academic year, or 14% of the University population.
In a letter sent to students and their parents this week, UIU President Alan G. Walker said that Upper Iowa believes that any reduction in the ITG will be a significant blow to many Upper Iowa students. “While the Governor has accepted the Iowa College Student Aid Commission’s recommendation to reduce the Iowa Tuition Grant,” wrote Walker, “Upper Iowa University has already made the decision to help our students get through this academic year.”
Walker added, “When students choose to enroll at Upper Iowa, they are welcomed into our community and we partner in helping them fulfill their dream of an education. Working together as faculty, staff and students, we design an academic path for each student that includes certain financial aid support. We will not abandon those students now regardless of any action by the State of Iowa.
ITG was established in 1969 to help students choose a public or private college or university that best suits their needs and talents without financial consideration. Students receive grant money directly rather than through an institution-directed grant program. In 1987, the ITG was changed to reflect the state subsidy, the difference between resident tuition at the state institutions and the actual cost for undergraduate education. Sources indicate while funding for the ITG has increased, it has not kept pace with the increased costs of tuition and fees.
Any Iowa resident enrolled or planning to enroll at any qualified Iowa private college or university is eligible for an ITG. Awards are based on the student’s financial need as determined by completion of the Free Application for Federal Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). In the last 33 years, more than 350,000 students have benefited from the ITG and recipients come from all 99 Iowa counties. The current statutory maximum grant is $4,000 and restoration is contingent on available state funding. In the past two years budget constraints have caused maximum grants to be reduced ($3,600 in '03-'04) and restoration to the $4,000 statutory maximum grant is contingent on available state funding.
Reaction to the decision was well-received among UIU staff and faculty. “A proactive stance such as this fully endorses Upper Iowa’s mission to provide student-centered education,” said David Chown, chief academic officer. “Reaching into UIU coffers helps assure that students can complete their degrees and shows them that Upper Iowa sincerely cares about them as more than just a source of tuition.”
Dr. Don McComb, UIU professor of graphic design, was a beneficiary of the Iowa Tuition Grant Program when he was an undergraduate at Wartburg College in the 1970s. “The Iowa Tuition Grant was a dream-come-true, and I am proud that Upper Iowa University has chosen to take a stance to support the shortfall in financial aid that may result from funding cuts to the program. Our position signals our commitment to our students.”
McComb sees economic benefits from the Iowa Tuition Grant Program that reach beyond individual students. ”The Iowa Tuition Grant Program supports an important industry in Iowa. Iowa is known for education. The economic impact of the Iowa Tuition Grant program should not be taken lightly. With time, I am hopeful that the State will see the long-term economic benefit of fully funding the Tuition Grant Program,” McComb said.
“We want our students and their families to be assured that the budget they have set for this academic year will not be altered by the State’s decision,” said Walker. “Getting an education is an endeavor that not only can secure a brighter future for individuals but that promises to strengthen both the state of Iowa and our nation. At Upper Iowa, we believe in supporting the hard work and sacrifices of our students as they strive to attain their goals.”
The final decision by the State on how much each student will be impacted is expected in December.
Complete details on the ITG can be found at www.iowacollegeaid.org.
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