The Iowa College Student Aid Commission says more than $700,000 in grants will be awarded to 16 healthcare professionals who work in rural Iowa. The grants will be matched by the communities where the recipients are employed.
Danielle Weber is a physical therapist who lives and works in Jefferson, the seat of Greene County. With more than $80,000 in debt she says the grant is like winning the lottery.
She explains that while her tuition at Des Moines University was “not cheap,” salaries in rural communities tend to skew lower.
“And I’ve been out since 2007 working in a rural community since that time,” says Weber. “I was on track to pay off my debt in 30 years, so it’s really going to help.”
Weber says thanks to the grant and a matching contribution from her employer, she will be free of her student debt in four years.
The Iowa College Student Aid Commission administrates the grants, which go to professionals across the healthcare spectrum.
“We’re not necessarily talking about (people who) specialize in surgery, where you’re going to have the salaries that are much, much higher," says spokeswoman Elizabeth Keest Sedrel of the Iowa College Student Aid Commission. "We’re talking about people with salaries much closer to the medium in Iowa who might be struggling to pay off these student loans just like most graduating students do.”
This year's grant recipients include osteopathic doctors, physician assistants, podiatrists and physical therapists. They work in Algona, Boone, Britt, Carlisle, Grinnell, Harlan, Humboldt, Ida Grove, Jefferson, Lake City, Perry, Pocahontas, Shell Rock, Sac City, Storm Lake, Webster City, and West Burlington.