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The Scarlet & Black

SGA pilots program to offer students driver’s education

Graphic by Hannah Agpoon.

Student Government Association (SGA) is pilot testing a driver’s education initiative, which will give 20 students a six-week course on driving instruction, provide them with driver’s permit and license tests from the Montezuma Driver’s License Station and include all transportation free of charge.

Sarah Beisner `22, SGA Resources and Services Coordinator, started planning the program last semester with a survey assessing student interest for this type of program. She has also established a partnership with Street Smarts, a driver’s 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 get the permit and to get their license,” said Beisner.

This past Wednesday, Beisner released the application to participate in the program by email to all students. Beisner said that the program would necessitate a seven-hour commitment per week, including five hours of instruction and two hours of driving time.”

“I think it balances out when you consider you’re getting driver’s ed for free, but it’s getting really clear on application that this is a huge time commitment and it’s going to be seven hours a week for six weeks,” said Beisner. Failure to finish the six- week program after being enrolled will result in a $400 charge to the student’s Grinnell account.

For the pilot program, SGA will be giving preference to low-income applicants. In the future, Beisner said she is hoping to locate a consistent source of institutional funding for the program so that students will be able to take the course every quarter.

“August to October, October to December, December to March, and April to May, 20 students will be able to take Driver’s Ed during each of those quarters, and so that we would have the capacity to do 80 students that year,” said Beisner.

In addition to planning out four separate program periods next year, SGA intends on approving applicants on lottery basis so that all students who apply can have equal chance of being accepted.

The current budget of the Street Smarts initiative, $16,180, had to be approved by the 2022 Spring Budget Referendum since there are no current senate meetings able to approve budgets above $1000. With a possible increase of capacity and access to all students in the future, the program could soon require significantly more funding, plus possible fees for the participants.

According to Beisner, the expected contribution from a student enrolled in the Driver’s Education program hopefully won’t ever exceed half the normal cost of the course, capping at $400, and will depend on the individual student’s needs for financial aid.

“The full costs, if you were to go get exactly the same package of driving courses and lessons and hours and stuff at resorts, would be $800,” Beisner said. “So, we would set the cap at like $400 per person, so half of that, and then it would be gradual, so if you’re high need for aid and on a Pell Grant, you pay $0 but if you pay full tuition, it would probably be $400.”

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