Posted on January 19, 2023 at 2:00 PM by Monica Clark
President Biden recently signed the fiscal year 2023 federal budget into law. The budget has several impacts on Community Colleges and our students. It increases the maximum annual Pell Grant award to $7,395--a $500 increase that will begin in the 2023-24 award year--the largest increase in a decade. Pell grants are critical to Iowa’s Community College students. In the 2020-2021 school year, over 23,000 students accessed $84.5 million through this program. Since Pell is only available to students with exceptional financial need, these students represent those who would stand to gain the most from this investment in their futures.
While this is an important step forward, more is needed. Iowa’s Community Colleges and our federal colleagues have advocated for doubling the Pell grant to keep up with rising costs. We have also made the case to make Pell tax-free and allow Community College Pell Grant recipients to qualify for the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). The tax credit piece would impact more than 400,000 Community College students nationwide.
In total, in the 2020-2021 school year, Iowa’s Community College students accessed more than $223 million in federal student aid (grants and loans), representing 84 percent of the total aid students received. The other 16 percent came from state and local sources. In Iowa, the largest source of state aid is the Future Ready Iowa Last Dollar Scholarship with $23 million in grants now available. Other state sources of aid include:
· Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant (IVTG)
· Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant (Kibbie Grant)
· GEAR UP Iowa Scholarship
· Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship
· All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship Program
· Education Training Voucher Program
· Gap Tuition Assistance Program
· Pathways for Academic Career and Employment (PACE) To qualify for any of these aid programs, students must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form provides income and other information that allows government and colleges to determine student need and direct aid. Recent reforms have sought to make this application easier for students so they can more readily access aid.
The bottom line is that many sources of funding are available for Iowa’s Community College students today. Depending on need and program of study, tuition can be free or very low cost to students and their families. Learn more by contacting your local Community College or accessing Iowa College Aid resources.