DES MOINES, IOWA (October 22, 2020) — The state of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Education has announced 43 Iowa colleges and universities have been awarded nearly $4.4 million to increase internet connectivity for students in the 2020-21 school year.
The funding is part of the state’s $26.2 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds, and is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The awards will help colleges and universities address barriers to online and remote-learning opportunities for the 2020-21 school year and help ensure students have equitable access to technology needed to continue their education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s critical that we support the schools, colleges, and universities working to provide learning opportunities to our students both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Governor Kim Reynolds. “The resources announced today will go directly to colleges and universities assisting students who are learning through online and remote options because of the pandemic. I am grateful to Iowa’s colleges and universities for the vital role they play in strengthening our workforce, removing barriers to success, and helping Iowans find successful careers right here in our state.”
“Expanding virtual education-delivery methods and ensuring students have the technology needed to access them are some of the new challenges our higher-education institutions are facing due to the pandemic,” said Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education. “These awards will enable colleges and universities to seek reimbursements for investments made to increase access, whether that be devices and software needed for virtual education or hotspots and other ways to increase internet access.”
Each college and university submitted an application indicating how it would use the funds to increase connectivity for students.
Allocations were based on the financial need of undergraduate students at each of the colleges and universities, as determined by the number of students who receive federal Pell grants. A list of recipients and allocation amounts is available on the Department of Education's website.
Earlier this year, approximately $19.3 million in GEER funding was provided to all 327 school districts as well as accredited nonpublic schools to increase internet connectivity. An additional $1 million in GEER funds was designated for providers of adult education and literacy services.
In addition, $1.5 million in GEER funds will be available for professional development to support effective online and remote instruction at Iowa’s colleges and universities. Applicants have until December 11 to apply. More information is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.