GAP Tuition Assistance Program meets a need

Iowa’s community colleges, including Iowa Central Community College, have been given an opportunity to assist low-income individuals and families. The GAP Tuition Assistance Program was established to provide funding to individuals for need-based tuition assistance in order to complete continuing education certificate training programs for in-demand occupations, including but not limited to: information technology, health care, advanced manufacturing, and transportation and logistics. Any other industry that might be designated as “in-demand” by a regional advisory board would also be able to establish certificate programs for such individuals. Since non-credit certificate programs are not eligible for federal financial aid, this program bridges the funding gap for those students pursuing short-term certificate courses.

Depending on your financial eligibility, a person may receive full or partial assistance with the direct training costs, including, tuition, books, required fees, and equipment, and industry testing services and background check testing services. Some of the criteria assessed in determining financial need include: The applicant’s family income for the12 months prior to the date of the application; applicant’s family size, and the applicant’s county of residence. Eligibility shall be limited to persons earning incomes at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level as defined by the most recently revised poverty income guidelines published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services as shown in the table below.

Further requirements of the program include that an applicant demonstrate a capacity to achieve various outcomes, such as: The ability to complete an eligible certificate program, the ability to enter a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree program for credit, the ability to gain full-time employment, and the ability to maintain full-time employment over time. One other requirement is that every person who intends to use the GAP tuition funds must sit for the National Career Readiness Certificate test. The test is designed to measure current skill levels in applied mathematics, location of information and reading for information. The certificate testing will give the student an understanding of where he or she may need to fill in some other gaps in training to be successful in the program and to be ready to join the work force upon completion of the course work.

Currently, Iowa Central has the following certificate programs eligible for the GAP Tuition Assistance: Welding, Truck Driving, Accelerated Truck Driving, Administrative Specialist, CNA, Certified Medication Aide, Graphics Technology, Production Welding, Intro to Maintenance Technician, Maintenance Technician. As advisory boards meet and determine need, more programs will be established and become eligible after a vote by the 15 community colleges deans and directors, who meet on a monthly basis.

The GAP Tuition Assistance Program is closely tied with the Pathways for Academic Career and Employment – PACE – program and the adult literacy program. The PACE program provides funding to Iowa Central Community college for the development of projects in coordination with the Economic Development Authority, the Department of Education, the Department of Workforce Development, regional advisory boards and community partners to implement a simplified, streamlined and comprehensive process, along with customized support services to enable eligible participants to acquire effective academic and employment training to secure gainful, quality employment.

The objective of PACE is to create projects that will further partnerships linking the community college to business and industry and to nonprofit organizations in order to ensure that the programs meet work-force needs as well as the needs of the targeted populations in attaining gainful, employment and increasing the number of financially stable households in the region.

Anyone interested in learning more about these programs can contact Sue Heistand at Iowa Central Community College, 574-1292 or by email and

Sue Heistand is the non-credit/ business adjunct at Iowa Central Community College.