Bill Cutting Aid from For-profit Colleges Fails to Advance

A bill that would ban state aid for students attending a for-profit college in Iowa has failed to advance in the legislature. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, introduced the bill — arguing the $4.5 million dollars would be better spent on students attend non-profit schools.

"These colleges are making from $12.5 million to 68 million dollars a year. I look at it and say does the state really need to participate in giving scholarships then to these colleges," Feenstra says,"I’d rather see that profit center go down a bit and help the students." He says when the schools should figure the grants into their budget.

“I just think if you’re in it for profit then you should also have your own tuition grants for your own students and not have taxpayer money funding these programs,” Feenstra says. A lobbyist for Kaplan University says they’re already required to provide a 77% match for any student tuition grants provided by the state. Mike Heller says the for-profit university spent nearly eight million dollars on tuition assistance in the last two years.

“Our typical student’s older, many are single parents. We have a very high degree of Pell grant eligibility; they’re in high financial need,” Heller says.”We try to work with them to get them into programs and over 90% of them stay in Iowa upon graduation.” Feenstra’s bill was unpopular with the two Democrats necessary to move the measure forward.

Cedar Rapids Senator Rob Hogg says a student should be eligible for state assistance no matter which school they choose to attend.

“We provide that Iowa tuition grant for students in Iowa, it’s to help the students. It has not been not picking and choosing between types of private colleges,” Hogg. Fellow Democrat Bob Dvorsky of Iowa City shared Hogg’s view and also declined to support the bill.


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