DES MOINES - Parents who are worried their family finances won't cover college costs are more likely to find significant financial aid at Iowa's private, non-profit colleges and universities.

"I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it's true," said Gary Steinke, President of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU) in a news release. Steinke points out more Pell grant-eligible students attend private colleges in Iowa than attend public universities.

"Only families who have real financial need qualify for federal Pell grants. There are actually 4,000 more students receiving Pell grants at Iowa's private colleges and universities than at the public universities," Steinke said. He also noted that the percentage of students receiving Pell grants at Iowa private colleges is almost double that of students at the public universities.

"This is real money for families," Steinke said. "The maximum Pell grant for the upcoming year is $5,775. That makes a huge difference, especially since Iowa students who qualify for federal Pell grants can also qualify for the state-funded Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG), which is a maximum of another $5,300. Combined, that can be more than $10,000 in financial aid grants which are not loans," according to Steinke.

Pell grant and ITG funding total more than $110 million for students at Iowa's private, non-profit colleges and universities. On top of that, the institutions themselves provide grants and scholarships totaling almost $450 million each year.

"The upshot is, every family, no matter their financial circumstances, should give serious consideration to an Iowa private, non-profit college or university for their students. They're likely to be surprised at how affordable it really is," Steinke concluded.

High school students are encouraged to find out more about financial aid opportunities during Iowa Private College Week, Aug. 3-7. IAICU member colleges and universities synchronize campus tour schedules across the entire state during that week. To register for visits or for more information, go to IowaPrivateCollegeWeek.org

More information about the ITG program can also be found at the website of the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.

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