- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Students whose parents or grandparents have degrees from the University of Iowa will receive a four-year, $6,000 scholarship when they enroll, the school announced Wednesday.

Hundreds of first-year and transfer students will automatically receive the $1,500 per-year Iowa Heritage Award starting next fall, school president Sally Mason said. Within that group, up to 20 of the highest-achieving students will be selected for an additional $6,000 scholarship, she said.

Any student with a parent, stepparent, legal guardian or grandparent who received an undergraduate, graduate or professional degree from the university will be eligible. The scholarships will also be available to students regardless of where they live.

“This is our attempt not only to encourage legacies to come back to the University of Iowa as their family members have, but also to encourage those who have moved out of state to bring those kids back to Iowa,” Mason told reporters at a news conference, announcing the plan as alumni started arriving on campus for Homecoming festivities. “This could be substantial for families.”

She said the scholarships would essentially amount to an automatic discount on the university’s tuition and fees, which are $8,000 for in-state students and $27,000 for nonresidents.

The university also announced two other new scholarship programs Wednesday. One will automatically provide $1,000 annual scholarships to low-income Iowa residents who qualify for federal Pell Grants. Another will provide $1,000 for students who enroll in study abroad programs, which Mason said should make them more affordable by helping cover the cost of plane tickets.

In addition, the university said it was increasing the awards for two existing merit-based scholarship programs. Mason said private fundraising and additional spending from the university’s general fund would cover the costs.

Mason said the changes are a piece of the school’s aggressive strategy to increase its 31,000-student enrollment and attract more in-state students.

“We want to be clear on the kinds of support we can provide and clear that the value that you can get from that support,” she said.

The shift comes in response to a policy approved earlier this year by the Iowa Board of Regents to link state funding for three public universities to in-state students. Without changes, the university stands to lose $40 million in funding over three years.

The university has taken several steps to increase its recruitment of in-state students in recent months, including a $765,000 advertising blitz and reinstating a policy of sending admissions officers to every Iowa high school annually.

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