Governor Chet Culver said today that 179 students won "All Iowa Opportunity Scholarships" out of 1,222 students who applied. Culver says the scholarships are based on family income and students must have at least a 2.5 grade-point average. He says they fill a hole in student aid need.
He says Iowa just a couple of years ago was last in the nation for students who wanted to go to college, but couldn’t because of their family’s income and a lack of financial aid. Culver says the number of applications for these scholarships shows the need in the state. Culver says the lack of aid happened because of budget cuts at schools. He says the state does very well with scholarships available for merit — those based on grade-point average for example.
Culver called on the Iowa Legislature to put more funding into the program, but credits them with getting it started. Culver says the idea is to get students into the door of a school, and then they have the opportunity to maybe get a part-time job, and maybe earn some additional scholarships once they are in school. Some 30 of the scholarship winners were on hand for the announcement, and Culver says they each won an average award of $5,225. Culver says he expects the students to work "extremely hard" to make the state proud of them.
Brianna Toser is a student at William Penn University who received one of the scholarships, and says it has been very useful. Toser says now she doesn’t have to worry about taking out more loans. Megan Ross, a student at the University of Iowa, also won a scholarship. Ross says it means a lot because she’s felt she’d have to get a job, as all her parents money has gone to pay for her education, and there wasn’t anything left over for other things.
Culver says the program was given one-million dollars this year after asking the legislature for five million dollars.