AIB students transferring at a discount


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As one Des Moines college closes, a diminishing number of students must decide what’s next.
University of Iowa President Sally Mason and AIB College of Business President Nancy Williams announced the two schools would merge on Jan. 26.

Originally, the plan was to turn AIB into a UI Des Moines campus.

Mason told The Daily Iowan in a question and answer session Monday both schools initially anticipated a smooth transition for AIB students into UI programs.

“A gradual transition where we know that we could phase students into our programs along the way rather than having to wait for AIB to complete its process would have been a lot easier,” Mason said.

Plans changed for AIB’s approximately 1,000 students — now down to roughly 750 —when Mason and Williams, along with President and CEO of Des Moines Area Community College Robert Denson, were alerted by the Higher Learning Commission the institutions could jeopardize their accreditation if they moved forward with the proposed merger.

“When an institution closes its doors, there are a number of [Higher Learning Commission] policies that may be implicated not only with regard to the closing institution but also with regard to institutions that may be acquiring the property or working with the students in some capacity,” said a letter addressed to Williams, Mason, and Denson from the commission obtained by the DI through a state Board of Regents record request.

At the Feb. 5 regents’ meeting in Cedar Falls, Mason announced AIB had been gifted to the UI and could become a regents regional center as opposed to the UI Des Moines campus.

Mason invited other schools, especially Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, to teach courses at the center.

These plans remain subject to regents’ approval.

AIB is set to stop teaching students June 30, 2016, with programming through other institutions taking over July 1.

“Initially, when this all happened, there was a lot of misinformation,” UI Director of Admissions Emil Rinderspacher said. “There was this assumption they would become [UI] students.”

Instead, AIB students must transfer to the UI. They will be held to the same admissions standards as other transfer students.

Rinderspacher said he thinks many AIB students aren’t interested in transferring to the UI because they either would like to remain in Des Moines or continue their sports careers.

“We’ve had a fair number of questions [about transferring] but not a huge number,” he said.

Last week, AIB held a college fair to help students explore transfer possibilities.

Around 40 colleges and universities attended, including several representatives from the UI.

“Some students have reached out to explore the possibility of transferring because they don’t qualify for the teach-out plan or they want to participate in athletics,” Grand View Vice President for Enrollment Management Debbie Barger said.

Approximately one-third of AIB’s students have been student athletes. This spring season was the last for the school’s athletics program.

Barger said many students showed interest because both colleges are located in Des Moines and because Grand View and AIB both belong to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Grand View is an AIB teach-out plan partner — alongside Buena Vista University — which means AIB seniors can take courses at either Grand View or Buena Vista for AIB credit.

About half of Grand View’s approximately 1,550 full-time students are involved in athletics, Barger said.

Other colleges are adding special incentives to transferring AIB students.

Simpson College, which is near Des Moines, also offers an exclusive $2,000 scholarship for students who transfer from AIB to Simpson this fall.

Admission to Simpson, however, is not entirely contingent on a student’s GPA.

“We have a holistic approach and review students on an individual basis,” Simpson Director of Transfer Enrollment Gwen Schroder said.

Johnson & Wales University in Denver also offers special scholarships for AIB transfers.

“Regardless of where students are transferring from, we try to make the process as easy as possible,” said the school’s director of admissions, Kim Medina.

Medina said the schools are of a similar size, run a trimester schedule, play National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics sports, and are in metropolitan areas.

AIB students transferring to Johnson & Wales with a GPA of 2.75 or higher by the fall of 2016 will be automatically awarded a $15,000 per year renewable scholarship.

Medina said three AIB students have already been admitted and that school officials are working with three more.

“The majority of our programs are fairly young, but our academic programs are very similar,” Athletics Director Sandee Mott said.

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