In response to student needs for access to technical programs at Kirkwood Community College’s main campus, last fall administrators in Student Services initiated a pilot transportation program designed to help defray costs.
The service, which transports students between the college’s main campus, its Iowa city location, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the UI College of Dentistry, is operated by Token Transit, a privately owned transportation company which allows the public to bypass the often-arduous commute along I-380.
In an initial investment from Higher Education Relief Funds (HEERF) last fall, the college was able to support approximately 66 students, and purchased semester passes for the full academic year with Nick Borders, director of Student Services at Kirkwood’s Iowa City campus, spear-heading the program.
This academic year, the college made a second financial investment in supporting student transportation costs based upon positive analytics and feedback such as good academic performance and course completion rates among student riders from the previous year.
As part of the selection process, students completed an online application expressing their need for transportation access and associated funding.
Eligible students were granted awards based on previous ridership, Pell grant eligibility, grade point average and additional factors, including their need to participate in technical programs in the allied health profession such as nursing, medical and dental assisting, as well as IT programs among others. “Students that participated in the program last fall had an average GPA of 3.1 and collectively they completed 90% of the credits they attempted,” Borders said. Students this past spring also had an average GPA of 3.1 and they completed 86% of the credits they attempted.”
Garion Opiola, a fourth-year student majoring in computer software development says he relies on the transit service for access to pursue his academic program, which is not offered on the Iowa City campus. As a result, the Coralville resident said he has taken the bus for the past two years to the main campus in Cedar Rapids solely in pursuit of access to attaining higher education.
“Having this bus is very convenient, and allows me access to get to my technical program classes,” said Opiola. Currently, the college offers all of its career and technical programs on its main campus in Cedar Rapids, while the Iowa City campus primarily has an academic focus in the Liberal Arts.
As a result of the service, Opiola said he is able to benefit from the knowledge and opportunities that the college has to offer, and if the service was unavailable, completing his education on campus might not be possible. “I don’t drive, so I would probably have to look for online resources for my education,” he said. Approximately 80 students are currently participating in the program this fall, and the college is planning on opening the application again soon to accommodate more students, Borders said. For questions about the program, respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.