For most Iowans, $6.5 million is a lot of money. Everyone would like to see their revenue increase by $6.5 million in one year.
Iowa’s community college system stands to receive much more help as a result of action by the state legislature. But it’s important to note that the $6.5 million goes to the entire community college system. That money will be split among 15 schools educating tens of thousands of students while dealing with the worst inflation the country has seen in decades.
When that amount of aid is spread across all the schools, it’s suddenly not such a big number. For example, Iowa Central Community College will receive approximately $380,000 in new money.
Iowa Central Community College and all other schools will receive a fraction of the new funds they really need to operate and invest in the programs needed to build tomorrow’s workforce. The new funds don’t even cover half of the inflationary cost increases colleges are experiencing.
With limited state aid, community colleges really have only one option to generate the funding they need: tuition. We think more tuition increases are a bad idea. Such increases will burden students with greater loan debt or, in the worst case scenario, create a barrier that will prevent people from pursuing a college education. Community colleges shouldn’t have to balance their budgets on the backs of students who no longer need to borrow.
Remember that community college graduates tend to stay in Iowa. They are the people who run our factories, take care of us in the hospital, and do countless other things to keep Iowa communities thriving. Forcing them into more debt is a bad idea.
While any increase in funding is a good thing, we’re calling on lawmakers to do better for community colleges next year. In particular, we call on State Senator Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge, to use his influence to convince his fellow lawmakers of the need for increased support for the institutions that are so critical to the education system and the economy. of our state. He is in a unique position to do so as he represents the community where Iowa Central is based and he is also chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which handles spending bills.
The Legislative Assembly has done some good things for community colleges this year. He funded manpower training and a financial aid program called the Last Dollar Scholarship. Part-time students have been made eligible for the Last Dollar Scholarship. And colleges have benefited from greater flexibility in hiring college transition and career transition counselors.
However, we remain convinced that legislators can do better on the big item of basic state aid. We look forward to seeing stronger support for Iowa community colleges next year around this time.