As governor, I will fight to provide universal access to our community colleges. This initiative will lower student debt, improve workforce shortages, and train Iowans for the jobs of the 21st Century. Also, this approach will make it far more likely that companies will choose to locate in Iowa on their own initiative, not because they receive a massive taxpayer giveaway.
Here is what I’m proposing:
- Any Iowan, whether they are a recent high school graduate or an adult looking to learn new skills later in life, will be able to receive free tuition at one of our state’s 15 community colleges.
- Priority will be given to students who enter a field designated as high demand where the need for more workers is greatest.
- Recipients must dedicate time as a volunteer or mentor in their community.
- Students will need to pursue all available state and federal aid before accepting grants through this program.
- Finally, after graduation, students must work in Iowa for at least three years or the grant will need to be repaid to the state.
Republican governors and Republican controlled legislatures in Arkansas and Tennessee passed similar initiatives, knowing this will make their states more competitive and provide residents with the ability to learn critical new skills. In Arkansas, this program costs $8 million per year or the same amount the Branstad-Reynolds administration just spent to add 10 new jobs in Polk County.
My priorities as governor are very different from theirs. The sustained health of our economy is worth that $8 million annual cost. Investing in Iowans by providing universal access to community colleges is a better way to secure long-term wage growth than handing over millions of dollars whenever a company comes calling.