MASON CITY, Iowa – The pandemic has forced schools, from K-12 to higher education, to move a lot of instruction online. To make sure everyone has a great connection, NIACC and other colleges and universities across the state are receiving state money to improve internet and technology access for all students to continue their education through these uncertain times.
NIACC is receiving $69,000 that will be used in expanding their laptop and mobile hotspot pool. The funding is part of the state’s $26.2 million in Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds, which is part of the federal CARES Act. Each institution submitted an application on how it would use the funds, with allocations based on financial need of undergraduate students, as determined by the number of students who receive federal Pell grants.
NIACC President Dr. Steve Schulz says the pandemic has prompted the school to adapt to utilizing more remote learning, and those changes will remain post-pandemic.
“This whole idea of having more flexible access to higher ed, be able to work, take care of kids while I go to class full time, those are always goals of ours. this has really increased our finish line to get there quicker, because that’s going to be some of the expectation going forward.”
Is more money slated to be allocated? Dr. Schulz says that depends on what happens at the federal level.
“We’re applying for every grant that comes down the road. If there’s any relief in there for our budget to help us get through these budget challenges, we’re going to be at the table. We’re looking forward to see if the CARES Act from the federal government has any higher ed allocation in it for the second round.”
GEER funding also went to public schools; earlier this year, around $19 million was provided to every Iowa school district, as well as accredited non-public schools to increase internet connectivity.