New UI summer tuition scholarship may benefit local businesses


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As students prepare for the end of spring semester and the beginning of summer, both University of Iowa officials and local businesses said they hope to see a larger returning population in the coming years following the announcement of a new summer scholarship program.

The UI is offering a scholarship opportunity to incoming freshmen who come to the UI in the summer or fall of 2013. This program will allow in-state students to take up to 12 semester hours during a single summer within their first four years at the UI for free. Out-of-state students will be able to take classes for in-state prices.

Associate Provost Beth Ingram said this could act as an incentive for more students to stay in the city during the summer and in turn could benefit local businesses.

“Students buy coffee. They eat lunch and dinner downtown, and all of those are dollars that are being spent here in Iowa City,” she said.

Monique Holtkamp, the owner of local candy store Sweets & Treats, 201 S. Clinton St., said she sees approximately a 20 percent drop in sales during the summer months. She said while part of the decrease is attributed to other factors such as summer heat keeping people away, students being out of town is a significant reason for the drop in sales.

“You have to be strategic about your help and your hours that you’re open,” she said. “I hate switching the hours around because I like consistency for the people coming to the shop, but sometimes I do have to do that.”

Holtkamp said she would welcome an increase in the number of students in Iowa City during the summer because between August and September, when students come back into town, her sales jump back up by 30 percent.

“You can definitely tell as soon as the students come back to school,” she said. “The shop is hopping.”

Sheila Davisson, the owner of Revival, 117 E. College St., said it would be nice to see more students in Iowa City in the summer but her business has adapted to the changes in customer flow during the summer.

“We’ve found ways to make the summer very profitable,” she said. “As a community, Iowa City uses the downtown to really be a community and a gathering place. In the summer, downtown is not a ghost town.”

In addition to a possible benefit for local businesses, UI Housing and Dining officials said they are also thinking about the possibility of a higher demand for campus housing during the summer.

Last summer, only 70 students lived on campus for summer courses.

Ryan Cohenour, assistant director for contracts and assignments, said he could see a possibility for a rise in demand for student housing as a result of the new scholarship. This could mean an economic benefit for the UI considering each student who stayed in a residence hall last summer paid $1,850.

“[Demand] very well could [increase], and we’re excited about the possibility of it,” Cohenour said. “We have space available so if there are changes to it we can certainly make adjustments for the demand.”

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