The Advantages of Free Tuition: A Student’s Perspective

1.27.21 The Advantages of Free Tuition

How will I pay for school? This worry is top of mind for a lot of students. And it’s no wonder – the news is filled with stories about the student loan crisis. Some 44 million students are responsible for over $1.6 trillion dollars in student debt. (And yes, you read that right – that is trillion with a T.) So, when a student has an opportunity to study and have ALL of their expenses covered, it can make a meaningful impact on their lives.  

Did You Say… FREE?  

Free is a four-letter word you don’t often hear when it comes to post-secondary education. Fortunately, students in Iowa are eligible for a unique career training program called the Future Ready Last Dollar Scholarship. The scholarship, awarded to students working towards a degree in certain programs at Ellsworth Community College or Marshalltown Community Collegeis designed to cover every last dollar of a student’s financial need. The scholarship covers tuition and fees, including books.  

What effect does the Last Dollar Scholarship have on the students who receive it? We asked students for their take on this unique scholarship.  

Academic Focus 

The Last-Dollar Scholarship has been a huge relief. I won’t have debt when I graduate and will be able to relax and focus more on school,” said Megan Miller.

Because the scholarship covers tuition, fees, books, housing, and almost all expenses, students have the ability to focus on their coursework, rather than balance school and part-time jobs. This can be a huge academic advantage for students who are trying to do it all.  

No Loan Burden 

My friends don’t believe me when I tell them that I am taking nursing classes and with the Last-Dollar Scholarship, I don’t have to pay any money out of pocket,” said Elaine Dorliae.

When students compare their financial standing with their counterparts at four-year schools, they definitely have a leg up. They will graduate with no student debt and begin in a high-demand career field while their friends are racking up student debt. They will be earning a solid living before their friends walk across the graduation stage, putting them at a distinct economic advantage.  

Non-Traditional Students Benefit 

Having the money from the Last-Dollar Scholarship helps tremendously. I’m not a traditional student so I had to give up my full-time job. Knowing that I don’t have to shoulder all of the costs for my education has put me at ease,” said Ethan Ronnebaum. “I also know skilled, trained workers are in demand and the training that I will receive through the Powerline program will make me more employable. 

The Last Dollar Scholarship is open to all full-time students and adult learners who enroll in eligible programs, are employed in approved work-based learning programs, or begin an eligible program part-time.   

How to Apply 

At Iowa Valley, we make it easy to receive these funds. In fact, we review everyone for this scholarship and award them automatically if students meet the qualifications. There are no essays to write or scholarship applications to submit. By completing your FAFSA, you are automatically considered for these funds. Easy, right?  

Who Qualifies?  

Students can qualify for these funds by: 

  • Being an Iowa resident 
  • Completing the FAFSA or financial aid eligibility form 
  • Enroll in an eligible program at an Iowa community college 

The list of eligible programs may change from year to year, so verify eligibility from one year to the next with the financial aid department. You must also meet the ongoing requirements to be eligible for these funds.  

The Last Dollar Scholarship is designed to pay for workforce training and attract students to certain under-represented fields. If you are looking to study in one of these fields, you may benefit from free tuition. Contact the Financial Aid team to talk about your eligibility.