Iowa College Aid commissioners await details on possible reorganization

Senator criticizes lack of public information on panel changes

By: - September 5, 2023 6:03 pm

Iowa College Aid, alongside more than 150 other state boards and commissions, are waiting for details on how they could be reorganized based on subcommittee recommendations. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa College Aid commissioners are waiting to receive details on just how the commission could be changed as the state seeks public comment on recommendations to reorganize, merge or eliminate more than 150 state panels.

Commissioner and state Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who represents the Iowa Senate on the board, said he reached out to Iowa College Aid staff to gain any more information on the potential reorganization, only to find that they had little to share. The only information provided to the public is a document listing each agency with a recommendation for elimination, a merge, reorganization or keeping as-is.

Without more information, Quirmbach said it’s very difficult for the public to form any sort of opinion on what’s going on.

“The simplistic information in the table that the governor’s office promulgated is completely insufficient for a considered, thorough and fair-minded review,” Quirmbach, D-Ames, said.


The Boards and Commissions Review Committee met Aug. 29 to hear the preliminary recommendations from six subcommittees on Iowa’s more than 250 boards and commissions. Quirmbach said the panel should have reviewed the agencies in smaller chunks and given more detailed recommendations and justifications before setting a time for people to make comment.

“They’re doing too much, too fast, with too little communication with the public,” Quirmbach said.

Iowa College Aid was one of 47 boards and commissions to be recommended for reorganization or other changes. As previously reported by Iowa Capital Dispatch, subcommittees recommended eliminating 69 state panels, merging 52 into other bodies and allowing the remaining 88 boards and commissions to continue operating as-is.

The committee was created as a part of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ agency restructuring bill and has until Sept. 30 to make its recommendations to the governor and Iowa Legislature.

Members of the public will provide remarks on the recommendations at the Boards and Commissions Review Committee’s next meeting, which will take place at noon Sept. 6 in Room 103 of the State Capitol.

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Iowa College Aid has already seen some changes this year, after the Legislature approved an agency reorganization that moved the agency into the Iowa Department of Education. The agency administers scholarships, grants and loan forgiveness programs totaling close to $80 million annually to help higher education become more accessible to Iowans.

Mark Wiederspan resigned from his position as executive director of the commission Aug. 17, and Julie Ntem, who previously served as a division administrator, was appointed as acting bureau chief and executive director until a new director is hired.

Commissioner Timothy Fitzgibbon, who represents the general public on the board, said he’s in favor of the governor’s overall goal to reduce the number of state agencies, as it should save the state money. He said it’s too early to have any concerns about Iowa College Aid’s possible reorganization, since it’s unclear what that would look like yet.

Commissioner Jeremy Swink, who represents K-12 practitioners, agreed, saying there’s not enough evidence yet to have a stance on whether the recommendation is good or bad.

“I’m sure every agency probably thought reorganization was a great idea, but just leave us alone — (that) was probably the pretty normal reaction,” Fitzgibbon said. “I think overall it’s a good idea, I’m just going to have a wait-and-see approach to see how much they change the various commissions and what they do with Iowa College Aid.”


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Brooklyn Draisey
Brooklyn Draisey

Brooklyn Draisey is a Report for America corps member covering higher education. She previously worked for the Quad-City Times and The Gazette covering topics ranging from business to culture.