Western Iowa Tech Community College campus in Denison

All three of the primary programs at the Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) Denison campus qualify for a new state scholarship program enacted this year.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds last week announced $16 million in funding for the Future Ready Iowa Act, of which $13 million will go toward the new “Last-Dollar Scholarship” program.

“These are funds available for students going into high-demand occupations that are identified in the last dollar scholarship,” said WITCC President Terry Murrell.

According to futurereadyiowa.gov, the list of Last-Dollar Scholarship high-demand occupations for 2019 includes 20 occupations in healthcare and biosciences; seven in information technology; 16 in advanced manufacturing production, installation, and maintenance; and 12 in construction and engineering.

All three of the main programs at the Denison WITCC campus - nursing, welding and heating/air conditioning - qualify for the program.

Last-Dollar scholarships may be used to help pay tuition for postsecondary degrees that lead to high-demand jobs, according to a press release from Reynolds.

The program is available to high school graduates and employed or unemployed adults who want to improve their skills.

Recent high school graduates must enroll full-time to be eligible, but adult students may enroll full-time or part-time.

A list of schools and eligible programs is available at iowacollegeaid.gov/lastdollar.

Students who qualify can essentially offset the tuition and fees part of a community college education, Murrell said.

If all other available state and federal financial aid doesn’t cover tuition at a community college, the Last-Dollar Scholarship will fill the gap, according to information provided by iowacollegeaid.gov/lastdollar.

The scholarship will cover the costs of tuition and mandatory fees after gifts and non-repayable financial aid, such as federal, state, college, foundation and employer assistance.

The Last-Dollar Scholarship program will create opportunities for careers that pay well and meet employers’ needs for more skilled workers, according to the Reynolds press release.

The program is not available for individuals already enrolled in college or who have been enrolled in the last year.

Murrell noted that one deadline is rapidly approaching for application to the program.

“The biggest thing we can stress is that you have to have your FAFSA filed by July 1,” he said.

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form used to apply for financial aid to pay for college or career school.

“That is something we can assist with on the Denison campus,” said Jessica Garcia, director of the WITCC Denison Campus and Southern Service Area. “We help people with that every day.”

Filling out the FAFSA form can be intimidating for first-time college students, she said.

“That is something we’re definitely willing to help individuals with,” Garcia said.

Additional information about the FAFSA form is available at fafsa.gov.

Murrell said one current issue with the new scholarship program is that the state has not yet written the rules for it.

“We’ll be as up-to-date on the rules as we can as they are written and are put into place,” he said.

He encouraged interested individuals to visit futurereadyiowa.gov for additional information about the program.

Admissions advisors at any of the WITCC campuses will be available to answer questions about the program, he said.

“If we can’t answer it we’ll start digging until we’re able to answer it,” Murrell said.

Garcia can be contacted at the Denison WITCC campus at 712-263-3419.

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