Lower-income Iowa families so financially-strapped that they can’t help pay -any- of their kids’ way to college have a new option at the University of Northern Iowa. Roland Carrillo, U-N-I’s executive director of enrollment management, says the program is called TOPs, or Tuition Opportunity Program, and the first crop of new students will attend U-N-I on it this fall. Carrillo says “We’re providing full tuition with grant aid for four years for any student whose parents cannot contribute to their education.” It also includes any tuition increases in the future while the student is at the Cedar Falls institution. While all colleges and universities offer various forms of financial aid, Carrillo says this program is very uncommon.He says low-income students can get a Pell grant for up to four-thousand dollars, but tuition at U-N-I and the other regent’s schools is around 53-hundred. Carrillo says U-N-I will “close that gap” and offer grants for the amount of tuition that isn’t covered by the federal grants. He thinks this will set U-N-I aside, enabling more Iowans to attend college, better their educations and brighten their futures.Carrillo says lower-income families shouldn’t give up on college. “It is still possible. The dream is possible.” U-N-I is among only a few institutions in the U.S. to offer such a program — others include Harvard and Nebraska. While TOPs covers tuition and fees, the university can help students with other expenses like room and board through loans and employment. For more information, call 800 772-2736 or surf to “www.uni.edu/finaid/”.
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