Covering the Last Dollar of tuition for students studying in-demand careers


Iowa has a new opportunity for some students in two-year colleges.

It could help them leave higher education without carrying a huge debt burden.

The Last-Dollar Scholarship Program is part of a package of laws recently signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds. 

The target is students pursuing specific in-demand careers with added financial aid.

Becoming available this fall, the law provides $13 million for the Last-Dollar Scholarship Program.

At Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, it will cover the remaining tuition balance for students eligible after Federal Financial Aid and other grants and scholarship.

It’s for Iowa residents who’ve just finished high school or adult learners looking to boost their skills.

William Lynch, a second-year EICC student, said, “Take something apart that someone else broke and putting it back together and making it run as good or better than what it was.”

Hammering away toward graduation come the end of the year, Scott Community College student William Lynch is following in his father’s footsteps.

Lynch said, “My dad was a diesel tech his whole life.”

He is studying for a career where employers are struggling to fill job postings.

Lynch said, “Since the older guys are retiring now, we’re kind of like a dying breed at this moment.”

He’s one of the students in the Diesel Technology program who could benefit from the Last Dollar Scholarship.

Lynch said, “Already got a sponsorship, but it’s nice having a little more taken off of it.”

Working on a green John Deere engine, Ryan Ketelsen sees it as a way to enter this career at full throttle. 

First-year EICC student Ryan Ketelsen said, “This is a field where tools cost a lot and all the schooling costs. There’s a lot of initial costs to get into it’s helping us a lot to be able to get money to pay for our schooling.”

It’s just one of the programs at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges where students can gain an education and financial relief. 

EICC Associate Director of Financial Aid Jane Haugland said, 
“Over 30 career programs that qualify and in areas related to health fields, business, automotive and diesel, manufacturing.”

The goal is making the pursuit and study of these careers a bit more attractive. 

Lynch said, “I hope so because there’s not a lot of us anymore. I mean our class is pretty small here, so it would be nice to have more people come in and at least try.” 

Local 4 News also spoke with the Diesel Tech instructor.

He told Local 4 students right now are coming in with a bit of a leg up as technology becomes a growing part of this field, but he is continually trying to help employers deal with staffing shortages.

EICC Diesel Tech Instructor Ken Hunter said, “The phone rings constantly. We’re a 100 percent placement for 40 plus years. The students come in here, most of them are already working. If a student wants a job, they can have a job.”

The Last-Dollar Scholarship Program is part of the Future Ready Iowa Initiative, which seeks to increase the percentage of Iowans with an education beyond high school.

Before students can qualify, they need to file for FAFSA. 

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