Students seeking financial assistance to attend an Iowa private college can begin the application process for an Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG), a financial aid program which allows prospective college students to receive a grant of up to $4,000.
Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, chairman of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU) and president of Dordt College in Sioux Center, said the grants could help determine where several students will attend college next year, particularly if deciding whether to enroll in a private or public institution.
"For many students, affordability is a key factor in deciding where to attend college," Zylstra said. "The Iowa Tuition Grant Program has served more than 340,000 students in the last 32 years, and an ITG, as well as other forms of financial aid, make attending an Iowa private institution a feasible option."
Lora Juhl, associate director of financial assistance at Buena Vista University, said 700 students at the main campus in Storm Lake are recipients of the ITG, and an estimated 800 to 850 students at the college's 15 centers at sites around the state are helped by the grant money.
"Well over half of our students receive aid from the Iowa Tuition Grant, and it definitely makes it more affordable to come to private colleges," Juhl said. "It's designed to help fund a private school education for those who need financial aid, and it's been an important program for us."
Any Iowa resident enrolled or planning to enroll at a qualified Iowa private college or university is eligible to apply for an ITG, which has a maximum amount of $4,000 for up to four years of full-time undergraduate study.
The average grant is approximately $3,335, but students are encouraged to apply for the program as early as possible due to limited funds for the ITG.
ITG awards are based on a student's financial needs as determined by the Free Application for Federal Financial Student Aid (FAFSA), and priority for the award is given to the neediest applicants.
Students must submit a FAFSA as early as possible, and the completed application must be mailed in time to reach the processing center by July 1 for priority consideration.
Prospective students can link to the online FAFSA form at the Iowa College Student Aid Commission's website (www.iowacollegeaid.org), and students may also request a FAFSA form from their high school guidance counselor.
Recipients of the ITG represent all 99 counties in Iowa, and the state issued $49 million in grants to 15,000 students entering private colleges last year.
However, that amount will be lower this upcoming year, as awards for students receiving the ITG this spring will be reduced by $225 in an effort by the state to save money.