November Community College Leader Bulletin

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 Volume 14, Issue 4                                                                       November 2023                                  

Inside this issue

Jeremy Varner
Bureau Chief

Dennis Harden

Amy Gieseke

Iowa community colleges report increases in fall enrollment

fall enrollment report

New data released by the Iowa Department of Education shows overall growth in fall enrollment trends at Iowa’s 15 community colleges this year.

Preliminary data analysis for 2023 indicates total fall enrollment at Iowa community colleges increased by 3,111 students from last year. This represents a 3.8 percent climb in the total number of students enrolled this fall at 85,362 compared to 82,251 in 2022 and is the second consecutive year with a continuous increase in community college enrollment. Part-time enrollment also reached an all-time high this fall with part-time students representing 66.7 percent of total enrollment.

“Iowa is continuing to see a strong rise in student enrollment at community colleges across the state,” said Amy Gieseke, section chief in the Bureau of Community Colleges and Postsecondary Readiness at the Iowa Department of Education. “Although we have not fully returned to pre-pandemic enrollment levels, the increases in fall enrollment prove community colleges are continuing to reach students to provide them with the high-quality education, training and industry certifications to ensure successful preparation for their careers and future success.”

Credit hours for Iowa community college students also increased by 3.0 percent this year at 709,013 compared to 688,414 last year. On average, students enrolled in 8.3 credit hours this fall semester.

Growth within total enrollment and student credit hours can be attributed to postsecondary initiatives offered within Iowa. Notably, joint enrollment opportunities for high school students to simultaneously earn high school and college credits continue to impact enrollment at community colleges and noted increases in 2023. This fall, 40,037 high school students participated in joint enrollment, which represents a 7.9 increase from 2022, and enrolled in 213,930 credit hours, a 14.2 increase.

For more information about the fall enrollment data, contact Vladimir Bassis at or 515-281-3671. 

Changes to commmunity college-related administrative rules

stack of books

The State Board of Education gave approval for notice of intended action on the following rules affecting community colleges:

  • Chapter 25 – Pathways for Academic Career and Employment Program; Gap Tuition Assistance Program
  • Chapter 27 – Workforce Training and Economic Development Funds
  • Chapter 32 – High School Equivalency Diploma
  • Chapter 48 – Work-Based Learning
  • Chapter 49 – Individual Career and Academic Plan
  • Chapter 80 – Standards for Paraeducator Preparation Programs.

The Iowa Department of Education reviewed these rules in accordance with Executive Order Number 10 issued by Governor Reynolds directing a comprehensive review of all existing rules. The rules were reviewed to “remove obsolete outdated, inconsistent, incompatible, redundant or unnecessary language, including instances where rule language is duplicative of statutory language.”

Written comments concerning the proposed rulemaking will be received by the Department until 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 4. Public hearings for the proposed rulemaking will be held on Jan 3-4. 

The detailed proposed rulemaking and additional information regarding submitting comments can be found on the Iowa Administrative Rules website.

For more information, contact Lora Vargason at or 515-729-0859.

Gap Tuition Assistance makes an impact

GEER II Report Cover

The Department has recently released the 2022-23 Gap Tuition Assistance Program Impact and Outcomes report. 

The Gap Tuition Assistance and Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER II) Fund support for the Gap Tuition Assistance Expansion programs offered by Iowa’s 15 community colleges provide targeted pathways that expedite the attainment of high-demand skills that benefit individuals, employers and the state. These demand-driven programs are highly responsive to regional workforce needs and offer continuing education for individuals to stay current in their jobs, meet local employer needs with custom job training designed for workplace preparation and provide a pathway to further postsecondary education.

Notable outcomes of the Gap Tuition Assistance Program and GEER II funding included: 

  • Gap program funding totaled $6.9 million in AY 2022 and AY 2023 combined, which included an increase of $2.9 million in GEER II funding in addition to the annual state allocation of $2 million. 
  • Gap and the GEER II Gap Expansion programs supported 2,192 noncredit and short-term credit students in AY 2022 and AY 2023.
  • Gap eligible programs include 128 noncredit programs and 16 short-term credit programs.
  • The vast majority of GEER II funds (95.5 percent) went directly to student tuition and support.
  • Enrollment in high-demand programs increased by 145 percent in AY 2022.
  • Due to GEER II Expansion, enrollment in the nursing assistant program more than tripled year-over-year, growing 205 percent in AY 2022.
  • As a result of GEER II Expansion, enrollment in the commercial driver’s license program more than doubled year-over-year, increasing 106 percent in AY 2022.
  • Minority students made up more than one-third of students (38.0 percent) supported with Gap and GEER II Expansion funding in AY 2022 and AY 2023. 
  • Over one-fifth of students (22.9 percent) who received assistance through Gap and GEER II Expansion programs continued their education into credit programs. 
  • The employment percentage for AY 2022 students who did not continue their education grew by 13.7 percent when compared to AY 2021 students. 

For more information on Gap Tuition Assistance, contact Paula Nissen at or 515-418-8273.

Learn more about nondiscrimination notice requirements

Group of employees

The Bureau of Community Colleges and Postsecondary Readiness has recently updated the Nondiscrimination Notices for Community Colleges document to add clarity to the information and better align with federal and state regulations. 

A webinar will be held at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 13 to go over the updated document and answer any questions related to the nondiscrimination notice requirements. Registration for the webinar is now open. 

For more information, contact Kelly Friesleben at or 515-868-2847.

Three Iowa students to serve as national officers

CTSO Officers

What do a college student from rural Iowa, a high school senior interested in entrepreneurship and a 20-year-old transplant from New England have in common? They are all currently serving as national officers in career and technical student organizations

National officers in career and technical student organizations, better known as CTSOs, are prestigious, high-value positions and require student leaders to endure extensive rounds of applications, interviews and meetings with stakeholders to demonstrate their leadership capabilities. In their roles as national officers, student leaders provide guidance and insight to state and local chapters, organize national events and set goals for their organizations. This year, Iowa has three CTSO officers serving at the national level, featuring two in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and one in FFA

“Although the interview process was nerve wracking, this will be an incredible experience serving as a national officer for FFA,” said Kanyon Huntington, 21, FFA central region vice president. “I am one of six FFA national leaders and want to make an impact by creating a space for everyone to grow and feel included.” 

Huntington is a senior at Iowa State University and has been a part of FFA, a CTSO focused on agriculture leadership and development, since his freshman year at East Union High School in Afton. Over the past eight years as an FFA member, Huntington has served as a chapter, district and state officer and feels that his experiences within FFA have helped develop his skills, both personally and professionally. 

Department releases new study on Associate of Professional Studies degree

Woman studying on laptop

The Associate of Professional Studies (APS) degree is awarded upon the completion of a state-approved program of study intended to prepare students for transfer into aligned baccalaureate programs or immediate related employment.

The APS pilot degree was written into Iowa Administrative Code in 2013, primarily as an alternative to the Associate of Science Career Option (AS-CO) degree being phased out by the end of Academic Year (AY) 2015-16. Initially, a limited number of APS pilot programs were approved from colleges demonstrating that other award types could not meet their needs. Currently, only ICCC and IVCCD offer APS awards to their students.

A new report detailing data from 2015-22 and the impact of APS degrees in Iowa is now available on the Iowa Department of Education's website. 

For more information, contact Heather Meissen at or 515-326-5378.

Senior Year Plus guide is now available


The Iowa Department of Education has released an updated Senior Year Plus Guide for Educators and Educational Administrators to assist in supporting Iowa school districts, accredited nonpublic schools and postsecondary institutions with the implementation of the state’s Senior Year Plus programs.

This comprehensive guide is designed to assist educators, counselors, advisors and administrators in understanding the requirements and expectations of the Senior Year Plus programs. The guide contains program descriptions, requirements, timelines and a frequently asked questions section, including other useful resources.

The Senior Year Plus guide is available on the Department’s website.

For more information, contact Heather Meissen at or 515-326-5378. 

Guided Pathways webpage goes live

Guided pathways logo

A new page for Community College Guided Pathways is now featured on the Iowa Department of Education's website. The page includes an overview on Guided Pathways and its history with Iowa community colleges.

Additional resources and information will continue to be added as work on this statewide initiative continues.  

For more information on the Guided Pathways initiative, contact Kelly Friesleben at or 515-868-2847.

College student strengthens skills, confidence at conference


When 20-year-old Paige Mentzer heard the Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) National Collegiate Career Connections Conference was coming to Des Moines, she jumped at the chance to participate in her second year at the event.  

Each year, the National Collegiate Career Connections Conference is held in two locations across the country and provides opportunities for FBLA collegiate members and other college students to strengthen professional skills and network with local employers before entering the workforce. This year along with Charlotte, N.C., Des Moines served as the host for the conference on Oct. 26-28 and saw over 250 students attend. 

“I had such a great experience last year at the conference in Omaha that I knew I wanted to attend again,” Mentzer said. “It was a moment that hit me that I was where I was supposed to be, meeting people in the industry, networking with other students and learning new skills.” 

Students participating in this year’s conference were able to participate in fast-paced professional development opportunities, such as mock interviews, professional headshots and networking events. The conference also featured presentations on recruitment, corporate citizenship and employee benefits, and onsite tours and interview opportunities with some of the area’s top employers were offered to attendees. 

“The National Collegiate Career Connections Conference brings together students and valuable opportunities,” said Cale Hutchings, education program consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. “The mix of activities and networking at the conference provides a well-rounded experience for students who are preparing to start their careers.” 

All Iowa community colleges now offer HOSA chapters

Joe Collins HOSA

Education program consultant Joe Collins led an onboarding training on Oct. 25 for 13 community colleges at the Spencer campus of Iowa Lakes Community Colleges. The training provided guidance on how to implement a new HOSA - Future Health Professionals career and technical student organization for their campuses. All 15 of Iowa's community colleges now offer a HOSA chapter for their students. 

For more information on HOSA and health science education programs, contact Collins at or 515-419-5190.

Join us for the next Pathway Pillars in Practice webinar

Guided pathways

The next Pathway Pillars in Practice will be held from 12-1 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 on the topics of Iowa Career Academic Pathways (ICAP) and Senior Year Plus including advisement into and their role within guided pathways.

The Iowa Department of Education will provide an overview of the programs, how they interconnect and how this information can help inform work around creating paths and getting students on pathways. Indian Hills Community College will share information on how they connect their career academies with individual career and academic plans (ICAP) and course planning while Iowa Lakes Community College will share their work on concurrent enrollment. There will also be time for questions and discussion

Pathway Pillars in Practice is a bi-semester series of webinars that create communities of practice around specific topics related to one of the four pillars of Guided Pathways. Each session is held over the lunch hour so anyone can participate and engage in discussion on a topic presented first by the Department and secondly by at least one of the 15 community colleges.

Registration is now open for this upcoming webinar. 

For more information, contact Kelly Friesleben at or 515-868-2847.

Apply today!

We're Hiring

If you're passionate about education in Iowa and are looking for a new career pathway, the Bureau of Community Colleges and Postsecondary Readiness is currently accepting applications for following open positions: 

  • Education Program Consultant - Senior Year Plus. This position oversees all aspects of the Senior Year Plus, Career Academy Incentive Fund grants and Summer College Credit program. The posting closes on Dec. 7.
  • Education Program Consultant - Business, Finance, Marketing and Management. This position provides leadership administration and technical assistance for high school and community college Business, Finance, Marketing and Management programs and Work-based Learning. The posting closes on Dec. 17. 

To learn more about these and other Department job postings, visit the Iowa Department of Administrative Services website. For specific questions on the Senior Year Plus position, contact Amy Gieseke at or 515-858-2234. Questions regarding the Business consultant position can be directed to Dennis Harden at or 515-314-7852.