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BVU Tops Iowa List for U.S. News ‘Best Value Schools’

September 13, 2021 10:29am

For the second consecutive year, Buena Vista University has been rated well ahead all other Iowa colleges and universities in U.S. News & World Report’s prestigious Best Value Schools Among Regional Universities in the Midwest.

BVU’s 2021 rating in the “Best Value” category is sixth among 71 Midwest institutions, some 21 spots ahead of any other Iowa institution.

It comes as no surprise to senior Cody Holtgrewe, whose scholarship experience is repeated throughout the student body. Holtgrewe, a digital media major from Newell, is one of 27 students receiving the Clausen Family Education for Service Scholarship, a full-tuition award earned, in part, through financial need and a demonstrated commitment to community service. Holtgrewe and other recipients of this landmark scholarship, all of them first-generation college students from Buena Vista County, contribute 300 hours of work to their community annually though the AmeriCorps program.

Eighty-seven percent of BVU undergraduates earn need-based grants and scholarships to help lower the average annual cost to attend BVU to $22,041, second lowest among the top seven schools in the “Best Value” category, which measures BVU’s academic quality as well as the net cost for attendance for students receiving the average level of need-based financial aid. BVU has been named a “Best Value” by U.S. News & World Report eight times in the past decade. On all eight occasions, BVU was rated seventh or better among colleges and universities in the Midwest.

Holtgrewe, who anticipates having little student debt to repay following his graduation in May, has benefitted from a variety of academic and co-curricular activities that paved the way for a paid internship in marketing at Arnolds Park Amusement Park this summer. There were hundreds of Beavers like him working to gain experience while offsetting academic costs through paid internships in the past academic year.

“I’ve found my passion in digital media, and I’m thankful for all the investment BVU has made in making improvements across campus in recent years,” Holtgrewe says. “I’m also thankful BVU allocates many of those gifts to students in the form of scholarships. Without scholarship assistance, I don’t know if I’d be able to access all of the opportunities I’ve had.”

Seventy-five percent of all financial aid awards awarded at BVU come in the form of scholarships and grants, gifts that need not be repaid. BVU provides nearly $18 million in student financial assistance out of its operating budget each year. Additionally, 100 percent of the full-time students attending BVU in Storm Lake who apply for financial aid receive financial aid.

“We are grateful for our top recognition as a ‘Best Value’ again by U.S. News & World Report,” says BVU President Brian Lenzmeier. “We continue to be humbled by the work of our students in earning valuable scholarships provided by BVU friends and alumni who see how a BVU education builds individuals and communities. The assistance provided by our benefactors for grants and scholarships helps keep the cost of a BVU education affordable while allowing students to become stewards themselves for their larger communities and for future students who will also choose BVU.”

While a $1 million gift from the Doug and Joanie Clausen family and VT Industries helped establish the Education for Service award, a separate $1 million gift from an anonymous benefactor created the Invest in Rural Iowa Scholarship program, which awards $5,000 annually to 15 qualifying students from a 19-county region of Northwest Iowa in each year, from 2020-2023. Those are but two of the named scholarship programs made available at Buena Vista University.

“Making BVU an affordable option for everyone remains central to our mission,” says BVU Vice President for Enrollment Management Kevin McIntyre. “Our benefactors and alumni help make this a reality through grants and scholarships. It’s inspiring to see recent BVU graduates succeed in their careers and soon ‘pay it forward’ for those students coming immediately after them, replenishing and adding to scholarship gifts that make the BVU experience all that much stronger.”

Holtgrewe says he’s already making plans to do what he can.

“I will always be an advocate for first-generation college students to earn the opportunity to attend college,” he says. “Maybe someday I’ll be able to help contribute to or establish a scholarship fund myself.”

BVU also earned awards in a pair of other categories measured by U.S. News & World Report:

BVU was 32nd in Social Mobility Among Regional Universities in the Midwest, second highest among Iowa institutions.

BVU was 49th among Regional Universities in the Midwest, third best among Iowa institutions.