The Student Government Association (SGA) is piloting a driver education initiative, which will provide 20 students with a six-week driver’s instruction course, provide them with a driver’s license and license from the Montezuma Driver License Station and will include all transportation free of charge.
Sarah Beisner `22, Coordinator of Resources and Services at SGA, began planning for the program last semester with a survey to gauge student interest in this type of program. She has also established a partnership with Street Smarts, a driver education program in Clive, Iowa.
“Each student will receive 30 hours of online instruction, 12 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a professional driving teacher, as well as transportation to and from Montezuma to obtain the permit and license,” Beisner said.
This past Wednesday, Beisner released the application to participate in the program by email to all students. Beisner said the program would require a commitment of seven hours per week, including five hours of instruction and two hours of driving.
“I think it balances out when you consider that you’re getting free driver education, but it’s very clear on the application that this is a huge time commitment and it’s going to be seven hours a week for six weeks,” Beisner said. If the program is not completed within six weeks of enrollment, a $400 fee will be charged to the student’s Grinnell account.
For the pilot program, SGA will give preference to low-income applicants. Going forward, Beisner said she hopes to find a steady source of institutional funding for the program so that students can take the course every quarter.
“From August through October, October through December, December through March and April through May, 20 students will be able to take Driver’s Ed during each of those quarters, and then we would have the capacity to do 80 students that year,” he said. Beisner.
In addition to planning four separate program terms next year, SGA intends to approve applicants by lottery so that all students who apply can have an equal chance of being accepted.
The current budget for the Street Smarts initiative, $16,180, had to be approved by the 2022 spring budget referendum as there are no current senate meetings capable of passing budgets greater than $1000. With a possible increase in capacity and the access to all students in the future, the program may soon require significantly more funding, in addition to possible fees for participants.
According to Beisner, the expected contribution of a student enrolled in the driver’s education program is never expected to exceed half the normal cost of the course, capped at $400, and will depend on the financial aid needs of the individual student.
“The total costs, if you were to get the exact same package of driving courses and lessons and hours and whatnot at the resorts, would be $800,” Beisner said. “So we would set the cap at $400 per person, half of that, and then it would be phased in, so if you are in dire need of help and you have a Pell Grant, you pay $0 but if you pay full tuition, they would probably be $400.”