Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC), located in Sheldon, Iowa, has a one-of-a-kind technical training program called Powerline Technology. The purpose of the one year program is to provide training for students interested in becoming line workers in the electric power industry. For over thirty years, the NCC program has produced highly qualified graduates, who finish their “educations” by apprenticeship within the industry. Graduates of the program enter a field of employment which is rewarding, challenging, and satisfying. Line workers in Iowa earn from $30,000 to $50,000 per year – a significant number given the amount of formal education involved. The electric industry is facing shortages of skilled workers of various kinds, including line workers. Our challenge in the future will be to identify workers who want to live and work in Southwest Iowa. AMU believes that one way that might be achieved is to recruit students for the NCC program, in hope that they will choose to work in our area.
What kind of student might be expected to succeed in this field? This is an area in which average to slightly above average students can succeed. Many NCC students were average students, at best, in high school, but have done well in the post-secondary environment. The student needs to be physically fit, able to lift heavy objects and perform physically demanding work. They will learn to climb poles, so they should not be afraid of heights. There is a lot of electrical theory involved, so a minimum of one year of algebra should be considered a prerequisite. Having said that, it should also be pointed out that this is a field in which above-average students can excel, can gain greater advancements, and can increase their earning power. AMU hopes to encourage students from average to exceptional to consider this opportunity.
Scholarship Details: AMU will provide one or more scholarships to the NCC Powerline Program each year, in amounts of up to $1,500. If more than two scholarships are awarded, the amount may be reduced. Students will be judged primarily on scholastic performance – this should not be considered a need-based program. Input from teachers and guidance counselors will also be reviewed and considered as part of the application process. The costs to attend the Powerline program are rather modest. Tuition and fees total about $9,200, and books add about another $700. The student has to purchase a number of tools, climbing, and personal safety equipment which normally run about $2000, so the overall cost to attend the program is about $11,900 plus board and room. The scholarship will be distributed on a semester basis, to match billings from NCC. The recipient must maintain a 2.5 point grade average in order to continue to receive the scholarship during the academic year.
Loan Program Details: AMU recognizes that financing education can sometimes be challenging to families, and is offering low interest loans of up to $5,000 to students entering the NCC Powerline program. These loans will be available to AMU Scholarship recipients, but will also be available to those who are not successful scholarship applicants, but wish to enroll in the Powerline program anyway. Loans will require co-signatures by a parent or other financially responsible party. Interest rates will be determined by AMU each year, but will remain fixed during the loan repayment period. No interest will be charged during the time the student is enrolled in the Powerline program, provided the student supplies AMU with evidence that he or she is receiving passing grades. Loan repayment may be deferred upon request, for up to six months from the date of graduation, to allow the student time to find a job and relocate. Exception: should the student drop out, fail or otherwise be expelled, interest charges will commence immediately, with monthly payments beginning within thirty calendar days. Loans are expected to be repaid in either 36 or 48 monthly payments, as mutually determined by the student and AMU. If any student should end up working for AMU after graduating from the Powerline program, AMU would forgive one monthly payment of any then-outstanding AMU loan, for each month the person works for AMU. Students should understand that AMU does not guarantee that any job openings will exist, nor imply that they will necessarily be given any preference in the hiring process.
How to Apply: Students should be aware that, because of the success of the program, there is often a long waiting list for the NCC Powerline program. One way to avoid this problem is to apply for admission very early. It is not uncommon for students to enroll as early as their sophomore year, to ensure that they can enter the program when they wish to. Students can opt to begin in either June or late August of each year. Applications for the AMU Scholarships should be sent to AMU; 15 West Third Street; Atlantic, IA 50022. The following should be included: 1.) Completed application; 2.) Letter from the student, providing their name, address, phone number, parents’ names, school district and any other information which might be pertinent; 3.) a letter of recommendation from a member of the faculty of their school; and 4.) a copy of their transcripts. AMU may request additional information during the course of consideration of applications, including final transcripts. Students interested in applying for the AMU Loan should take the following steps: Apply to enroll at NCC, and send a copy of your acceptance to AMU. Also enclose a letter indicating that you wish to apply for a loan to attend the Powerline program. A loan application/contract will be mailed to you, which must be co-signed by a parent or other adult. The co-signer must have acceptable credit, and will be required to provide permission for AMU to perform credit checks. Loan applications may be made at any time. AMU will notify guidance offices of future deadlines. AMU reserves the right to limit the number of scholarships and loans made, or to modify the details of its scholarship and/or loan programs without notice. For more information, contact Steve Tjepkes, General Manager, at 712-243-1395, or STjepkes@amu1.net.