New freshmen summer scholarship not expected to cost UI too much


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High-school senior Billie Flaming said the University of Iowa’s new summer scholarship program would allow her more flexibility in obtaining her college degree.

First-year, first-time students who enroll in the summer or fall of 2013 at the UI can receive a scholarship that will allow in-state undergraduate students to take up to 12 semester hours for free during any summer in their first four years.

Considering the stories she has heard about how many times students change their majors, Flaming said she thinks the scholarship could help her ensure that she graduates in four years or fewer if she ever changed her major.

“I can totally see myself using it because I think it will be really helpful,” she said. “I’m pretty confident that I will graduate in four years, but hey, if I do use [the scholarship] and I graduate in three, that’s one year less I have to pay for tuition, which I wouldn’t complain about.”

The scholarship will also allow out-of-state students to take courses during a single summer for the price of in-state tuition.

“Most of the classes are not fully enrolled, so the cost of adding another student or two to a class is almost zero,” Associate Provost Beth Ingram said.

Ingram said the idea for the scholarship came from the Provost’s Office, and officials were able to work it into the summer budget in such a way that costs to the UI would be marginal at most.

Regent Robert Downer said he thinks the new scholarship will turn out to be affordable because many of buildings on campus are maintained, lit, and cooled during the summer whether students utilize them or not.

“There will probably be some additional costs but I think those additional costs would be very modest relative to the benefit that will be achieved,” he said.

Ingram said the purpose of the scholarship is two-fold. Primarily, it is designed to help boost four-year graduation rates.

For the class of 2008, the four-year graduation for in-state students was 44 percent and four-year graduation for out-of-state students was nearly 53 percent.  

By 2016, the UI wants overall four-year graduation rates to grow from 48 to 52 percent.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville. “It should be initiated to see if it helps improve graduation rates but also to see if it helps retain students who may or may not be struggling.”

Jacoby said he thinks students having the opportunity to focus on one or two more challenging classes during the downtime of the summer may help students succeed and stay at the UI. He also said he is now more anxious about the Legislature funding the proposed tuition freeze after hearing about this scholarship.

“It makes me more excited to adequately fund the regents, because President [Sally] Mason is showing great initiative in terms of student retention and graduation rates,” he said. “It’s up to the Legislature to live up to our end of the agreement and fund the universities at an adequate level.”

Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, said he, too, thinks the scholarship sounds like a good idea.

“I’m just learning about this for the first time, but it sounds like another example of some of the innovation that’s going on at public universities,” he said. “Anything you can do to get students graduated with the courses that they need in their degree area is a good thing.”

Ingram said the other purpose for the scholarship is to increase summer enrollment.

“[We want] to encourages students to take at least one summer taking some classes at the university,” she said.

For the summer of 2012, enrollment was 5,849. Enrollment at the beginning of the 2012 fall semester was 31,498.

High-school senior Audrey Cleaver said she could see taking advantage of the scholarship after she starts at the UI, but she would have concerns about being able to visit home during the summer break. She said she could see that as a drawback for many other students as well.

“I was planning to try to graduate early, so working over the summer would be something I would be interested in,” she said. “[But] I live in New York, so it would be hard to do summer classes and come home for any length of time.”

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