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Iowa Students: Increasingly on Their Own

Funding for Iowa College Student Tuition Grant Programs Continues to Fall
IFP News Release

Policy brief or 6-page PDF
This news release (2-page PDF)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (April 12, 2012) — Funding for higher education in Iowa has declined not only for state-funded institutions but also tuition assistance grants for students at both public and private colleges.

box - tuition grants“Students in four-year, two-year and vocational-technical programs increasingly are on their own when dealing with rising education costs,” said Andrew Cannon, research associate for the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project and author of a new report for the Iowa Fiscal Partnership on state funding for College Aid Commission tuition grants.

“These grants are important for students in both public and private higher education, especially with tuition rising,” Cannon said. “Unfortunately, state assistance not only is falling short, but is falling shorter and shorter.”

Cannon in March authored IFP reports on trends in funding of Iowa’s regents universities (Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa) and Iowa’s community colleges. The new report examines the critical tuition assistance programs provided through the Iowa College Aid Commission, in particular the Iowa Tuition Grant program and the Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant (IVTTG).

“In both cases, the assistance had earlier declined in the wake of recession, but eventually recovered. However, we haven’t seen recovery yet after the Great Recession,” Cannon said.

Among noteworthy trends:
— Average Iowa Tuition Grant awards cover about half as much tuition and fees in 2010-11 as they did in 1999-2000, falling from 28 percent to 13 percent.
— IVTTG funding has declined in real (constant) dollars since Fiscal Year 2000. That program provides more support for a student in 2011 than it provided in 2000 but a smaller share of rising tuition and fees, and fewer students are covered.
— Funding for other Iowa grants and scholarships in some cases rose immediately after the last recession ended in 2009, but since then has fallen off.

“These trends inevitably have an impact on the affordability of a college education in Iowa. We once again must raise a question we have raised before: How can legislators say they are committed to higher education?” Cannon said.

“Our elected leaders are missing the important benefit provided to the state’s economy with a well-trained and well-educated workforce.”

The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is a joint policy analysis initiative of two nonpartisan, nonprofit Iowa-based groups, the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City and the Child & Family Policy Center in Des Moines. Reports are available at

Other Resources on Iowa Higher Education funding from the Iowa Fiscal Partnership:
Lost Momentum for Iowa's Community Colleges — By Andrew Cannon
Policy brief or 4-pg PDF March 22, 2012
News release or 2-pg PDF

Up and Down: Regents' Costs Rise, Funding Drops in Iowa — By Andrew Cannon
Policy brief or 5-pg PDF March 8, 2012
News release

A joint effort of the Iowa Policy Project and the Child & Family Policy Center (logos).