A Huge Weight Lifted

posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 in  College News

ABOVE: Nursing student Megan Hoskins with her husband, Joe, and their daughters, Norah (left) and Hazel (right). Megan is one of nearly 450 Hawkeye Community College students who qualified for the Last-Dollar Scholarship.

For most Last-Dollar Scholarship recipients, the first reaction is disbelief. How is it possible that tuition and fees are paid in full the coming school year? For Hawkeye Community College financial aid analyst Nadine Torsrud, it’s a question she’s happy to answer.

“The response from students has been wonderful,” she said. “We have spoken to several students who have never received gift aid (grants and scholarships) in the past who are receiving awards that cover the cost of their tuition and standard fees.”

Nearly 450 Hawkeye students are recipients of the Last-Dollar Scholarship this year, a new statewide initiative from Future Ready Iowa to train Iowans in high-demand career fields. Hawkeye has more than 20 programs eligible for the Last-Dollar Scholarship. For students like Megan Hoskins, finding out her tuition was paid felt like a huge weight was lifted.

“This opportunity means so much to me,” Hoskins said. After earning a bachelor’s degree and working for 11 years in the public health arena, Hoskins decided to return to school last year and pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. She quit her job to focus on school, using savings to
pay tuition while she, her husband, and their two young daughters lived on his income.

“I was preparing to have to start taking out loans to pay for the next four semesters,” she said. “This scholarship means so much to my family and me. I would have had to spend a lot of time and energy worrying about our finances, and now I can take that and focus on school and family.”

The Last-Dollar Scholarship helps students pay 100 percent of their tuition and mandatory fees. For students like Hoskins, the scholarship covers the remaining tuition after grants are applied. For students who don’t qualify for other grants or aid, the scholarship can pay their full tuition bill.

“The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship is not awarded based on financial need, but rather the student’s program of study and cost,” Torsrud said. “In some instances, students are able to reduce or even cancel the student loans they may have intended to borrow. For others, the receipt of these funds has been the catalyst for their decision to return to school.”

There are no essays to write or applications to navigate. Students simply complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and enroll in one of the eligible programs. This academic year the Last-Dollar Scholarship will pay more than $1.2 million in tuition and fees for
Hawkeye students.

“Students can begin looking ahead to the 2020-2021 school year and begin filing their FAFSA as early as October 1, 2019,” Torsrud said. “We encourage all students to complete the FAFSA as early as possible.”


  1. Connect Magazine
  2. FAFSA
  3. Financial Aid
  4. Future Ready Iowa
  5. Last-Dollar Scholarship
  6. Nursing
  7. Scholarships
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