P&S tuition grants may be cut

Jacqui Becker

ISU employees wishing to continue their education may have to break out their checkbooks in the future due to the uncertain future of the P&S Tuition Grant Program.

During the past three years, the Professional and Scientific Council has experimented with the full funding of the P&S Tuition Grant Program, which has allowed about 125 professionals and employees of Iowa State each semester to take advantage of schooling while working.

During the past three years, the program has exceeded its budget by a combined $30,000 during the trial period, and its future is now uncertain.

Danette Kenne, P&S Council president, said there are two factors causing the budget overrun — an increase in people using the program and an increase in tuition.

“It is the two facts combined,” she said. “Not just one but the two coming into play.”

The program currently reimburses employees who are working on degrees such as a master’s or Ph.D. to move into a higher position, said Dan Woodin, committee member.

“Any P&S employee that wanted to take a class would be given up to three credits for undergraduate and graduate work,” he said.

Ellen Rasmussen, assistant provost, said the program is an important employee benefit that is not unlike those in the business world.

“It is important to remain competitive,” she said. “This is a way we can provide a positive work environment with our employees.”

Kenne said this educational support is important to the staff at Iowa State.

“Educated employees are obviously a good thing to have,” she said. “It is an opportunity or tool to recruit and retain good employees.”

She also said there is a tight marketplace for jobs and good employees.

“It is one advantage as an institution to provide for continued education,” Kenne said.

Woodin said he only sees this program continuing through the help of the tuition grant.

“There really isn’t any other opportunity to fund this program from our standpoint,” he said.

Woodin said the committee members would have to make more determinations on who would be granted money for tuition if the grant is not renewed.

Rasmussen said it would not go back to people only having half of their tuition paid for.

“If we don’t get additional funding, I don’t think we’d go back to that level of funding,” she said.

She said a lower rate may have to be set, but it would be higher than before the program existed.

“We might have to say to folks, ‘We can only pay for 90 percent.'”

The entire university is being affected by Iowa Legislature budget costs that will require people to work together, Kenne said.

“We know the upcoming year will be challenging,” she said.

That challenge includes the future of the grant and the 125 employees who take advantage of the opportunity each semester, she said.

Kenne said she wants to maintain the funding for the Tuition Grant to allow the program to grow.

“We of course want to see it continue like it has for last couple of years,” she said.