Tuition-free summer to continue next year

BY ERIN MARSHALL | JUNE 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Underclassmen have an additional incentive to help them stay on track to graduate in four years.
The Summer Hawk Tuition Grant is offered to all students who were freshmen at the university in 2013.

The program, which the University of Iowa is offering for the first time this summer, will be offered again next summer to students in the class of 2018.

However the university won’t know how well the program works until the class of 2017 graduates.

“Really, the goal was to increase our four-year graduation rate,” Associate Provost Beth Ingram said. “Nationally, we have a very good four-year graduation rate.”

The UI has a 51 percent graduation rate for those who enrolled in the class of 2009, Ingram said, the best rate it has had in a number of years.

In-state students eligible for the grant can take up to 12 credit hours for free. Nonresident students registered for more than four semester hours could receive the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Out-of-state students who take advantage of the program will be able to enroll in classes at the price an in-state student would.

The grant is only available to eligible students for one summer.

“It was a scholarship offered to students who entered as first-time, first-year students in the fall of 2013,” Ingram said.

Ingram said 4,460 students were eligible for the program, but only roughly 250 students took advantage of the tuition-free summer courses.

And the grant has not deterred countless other students from taking summer classes.

Ingram said the last summer census count was 6,000 students, and the year before it was 5,800. The university is at capacity for students taking classes this summer this year, she said.

“Given that we had capacity, this was a good way to make use of that capacity and offer this infrastructure to those students,” she said. “The reason this worked was because it was a limited-focus program.”

Summer tuition costs the same amount per credit hour as tuition during the academic year. For a three-credit hour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences summer course this year, in-state residents paid $1,128, Ingram said.

Six credit hours of courses cost $2,083; 12 credit hours cost $3,806.

Kevin Clancy, a student enrolled in UI summer courses, was not aware of the Hawk Tuition Grant.

“It sounds like a good way for freshmen to gain familiarity with the fact that they can take courses over the summer,” he said.

The UI is the only regent institution to offer a tuition-free program to students.

“We don’t have a similar or parallel program here at this point,” said Ellen Rasmussen, the associate vice president for Academic Planning and Resources at Iowa State University.

Brooke Dillon, a representative from the University News Service at the University of Minnesota, said it also does not have a similar program.

“We actually don’t offer really any tuition-free summer school programs, unfortunately,” Dillon said.

Although the University of Northern Iowa does not provide tuition-free summer classes, one official said the school would look into it.

“Yes, [a tuition-free summer program] is something that we could consider,” Scott Ketelsen, the director of UNI University Relations, wrote in an email. “UNI is always reviewing its policies and practices so that we can provide a high-quality and affordable educational experience to our students.”

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