Nate Boulton, gubernatorial candidate, a democrat, heard various stories during his Wartburg College tour last Friday afternoon, in addition to a strong plea for increasing funding for the Iowa Tuition Grant program.
“I think it is huge for the students, because it’s a $5,650 grant, so it makes a considerable contribution to them funding their education,” said the director of the financial aid department, Jen Sassman, to Boulton after he asked how the state grant impacts students. “It’s a little bit of funding from the state that actually has high returns because of what we can do for the state of Iowa with how many students we graduate.”
Sassman has said that there are 444 students, citing the figures from last year, who managed to use the state grant to assist with education expenses.
Though the program unfortunately resulted in a cut of $2.3 million after the previous legislative session, Sassman stated that Wartburg hopes the figures may be increased due to their incredible impact.
“A lot of these students are Iowa students that end up staying in Iowa that take advantage of these tuition grants that are essential to maintaining a quality independent college network, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of our regents institutions or the expense of our community colleges,” said Boulton following the tour. “We need to support that whole system.”
He said that it was extremely concerning to see turf wars develop amongst education systems over claims to funding within the state’s budget.
Boulton also said that the state’s budget problems may be solved if the system of tax credits and giveaways are reassessed.
At Wartburg, the candidate also saw many concerns regarding increasing mental health problems on campus.
The assistant director of the Pathways organization on campus, Jette Irgens, said that the issue lies nationally, not just locally.
“I would say just the demands of students now are pretty high; there’s not a lot of room to fail,” said Irgens. “There’s very little wiggle room, so the students definitely sense that and that increases the stress levels that they come in with, and it actually makes it harder for them to succeed in the classroom.”