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Iowa Central to offer flat rate tuition

School is first community college in Iowa to do that

Iowa Central Community College is now the first such school in the state to offer full-time students a flat tuition rate.

The new tuition package, approved unanimously Tuesday by the college’s Board of Directors, could trim more than $1,000 from the cost of earning an associate degree.

As part of the plan, students could also check out a Surface Go tablet device that would enable them to access textbooks and other materials electronically.

The flat tuition rate will be in place for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“We feel that the playing field can be leveled by going to the flat rate and Surface Go access,” college President Dan Kinney said. “The costs of attending college continue to increase, and the flat rate allows students to take more classes without higher tuition costs. Where technology is involved, we now can meet the needs of our students and assist them to achieve at their highest abilities with increased accessibility.”

Iowa Central students now pay tuition based on the number of credit hours they take each semester. That means the more credit hours they take, the more they have to pay.

Under the newly approved plan, students taking 12 to 18 credit hours in a semester would pay the same rate.

For in-state students, that rate will be $2,850 per semester.

Students from the bordering states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota who have a high school grade point average of 3.0 or higher will pay $2,950 per semester.

Students from other states and foreign countries will pay $4,100 per semester.

“Our goal behind this is increasing student success by making college more affordable,” said Stacy Mentzer, the college’s vice president of instruction.

Kinney said the flat tuition program will hopefully encourage students to take more credit hours. He said research shows that students do better academically when they take more credit hours.

Students who want to complete an associate degree in two years generally have to take 15 to 18 credit hours each semester.

Students who take fewer than 12 credit hours a semester will pay tuition based on the number of credit hours.

Those students who take more than 18 credit hours per semester will pay the flat rate, plus a per credit rate for every credit hour over 18.

Many four-year colleges and universities have flat tuition packages. Iowa Central is the only community college in Iowa to offer one, and apparently just one other community college, located in Pennsylvania, does so.

As part of the flat rate tuition program, full-time students will be able to check out a Surface Go device that would have to be returned to the college. Those devices can be used to access 22,000 textbooks, plus other resources.

Mentzer said she was surprised to learn that the Surface Go devices will be a big benefit to automotive technology students, who will no longer have to use hefty parts manuals.

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