Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle proposes a free-ride for students at Iowa, Iowa State and UNI who come from low- to moderate-income Iowa families if they promise to work in Iowa for seven years after graduation.
Nussle held news conferences in Iowa City and Des Moines today (Tuesday) to unveil a host of education proposals, including that promise to pay off student loans for low- to moderate-income students who keep their college grades up — and promise to stay and work in Iowa for seven years after graduating from college. “Once we get a college education under the belt of a young person here in this state, we’ve got to make sure we can attract them to stay in Iowa,” Nussle says.
Nussle calls this proposal “Learn and Earn” and “high-performing” students whose parents earn $52,000 or less annually would be eligible. “As long as they keep their grades at 3.0 or better, if they score well on the ACT which is composite of 23 or higher, and if they promise to work in the state for seven years or more — I want them over seven years after graduation to commit to staying here, to working here, to building a business here, to building a profession here,” Nussle says. “In return for signing that contract, we’re going to buy down their student loan. We can do that at a 15 percent rate per year every year that they are here.”
Nussle says that will provide Iowa students a reason to stay and make Iowa this home. Nussle would also offer parents and college-aged students a guarantee that tuition at Iowa, Iowa State and UNI would go no higher than the so-called “higher education price index” which measures inflation on college campuses. Nussle says a tuition freeze won’t work. “A freeze may sound good but what it does is it undercuts our higher education system,” Nussle says.
Nussle also wants to ensure that every Iowa high school offers students “advanced placement” classes and the ability to take community college courses to start earning college credits while they’re still in high school. “Particularly in core subjects like sciences, technology, engineers, mathematics, foreign languages, English — all we believe are key if we’re going to ensure that our kids have the advantages they need in order to meet the challenges of the future,” Nussle says.
Last week Nussle pledged to raise K-through-12 teacher pay “above the national average” and today Nussle indicated he believes it’s possible to redirect over 330-million dollars in state funds and raise teacher pay above the national average — so that average teacher pay in Iowa would rank 15th among the 50 states. “We want Iowa to set the standard again when it comes to world-class education,” Nussle says. “We want Iowa to lead again. We want our students to lead. We want our educators to lead.”
Nussle held his Des Moines news conference in the parking lot at Hoover High School, where his Democratic opponent Chet Culver had been a teacher and coach before being elected Secretary of State in 1998.