Iowa Schools Get $4.8 Million in Grants for CDL Training

Funds Will Go Toward Modernizing Infrastructure
Hawkeye Community College truck
Last August, Don Hummer Trucking in Cedar Rapids donated a 2019 Kenworth T680 automatic transmission truck and trailer to Hawkeye Community College for use in its CDL training program. (Hawkeye Community College)

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With Iowa projected to need more than 10,000 truckers yearly through 2030, Gov. Kim Reynolds again has taken steps to get more drivers behind the wheel with $4.84 million in community college grants to train over 1,000 people.

The funds will expand modern infrastructure for commercial driver license training programs as part of Reynolds’ efforts during the past two years to remove barriers truck driver training.

Iowa has the third-largest concentration of heavy and tractor-trailer drivers (38,390 as of May 2022), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Arkansas has the most, followed by North Dakota.)

“The pathway to finding a job as a truck driver, one of our most-needed occupations, runs through getting a CDL license,” Reynolds noted Oct. 19. “It’s important that we do everything we can to not only make it easier for individuals to obtain these licenses, but also to support the long-term viability of the programs that made it possible to gain that experience right here in Iowa.”

Beth Townsend


Funds will be administered as reimbursements for 10 community colleges that must offer competency-based training courses and/or a training course and have students complete training and take a licensing exam within a 30-day window. Another stipulation notes that colleges receiving the grant must freeze their CDL tuition rates for five years upon completion of the projects funded by state grants.

The grants will help support building, purchasing or remodeling training infrastructure to prepare drivers to meet CDL requirements. The money is expected boost CDL program participants at the 10 schools by a total of 1,305 annually.

Increasing the CDL pipeline is crucial to sustaining and improving our economy. We are chronically short of drivers, and Gov. Reynolds’ continued investment in our community colleges should help accomplish this goal,” said Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development executive director. “This investment today will also give Iowa employers a leg up in recruiting more individuals in our state who have a CDL and are workforce ready.”

Iowa has launched two grant programs to remove cost barriers for driver training to get more CDL holders in the state. In March, Reynolds awarded $2.94 million to support 46 different training programs.

In this latest round of grants, the largest awards of $1 million each went to Des Moines Area Community College and Waterloo-based Hawkeye Community College.

The Des Moines college will use funds to help cover costs to remove an existing building and construct a new one with classroom, lab and skill-building spaces for students. Improvements will raise annual enrollment from 200 to 300 students while also expanding third-party training and testing.

Hawkeye will nearly double the size (adding 10,000 square feet) to its current Regional Transportation Training Center so it can to serve an additional 203 new drivers per year.

The next-highest amount of $797,000 went to Eastern Iowa Community College to prepare three federally approved training ranges in Davenport and create a new training site in Muscatine that will triple its student capacity. The grant also will pay for four tractor-trailer combinations, equipped with electronic logging devices to slash training time to four weeks from the current seven weeks.

Iowa community colleges map

Source: State of Iowa

Southwestern Iowa Community College in Creston was awarded $665,000 so students can complete entry-level driver training plus associated competencies and testing within 30 days. State money will pay to build an indoor pre-trip inspection area, storage for a truck-trailer combination, new training vehicles and a concrete driving range. The school is expected to be able to train up to 60 people for their Class A CDL and 40 with a hazardous waste materials endorsement.

Northwest Iowa Community College of Sheldon will use its $301,000 grant to buy two truck-trailer combinations, hire staff to train more drivers and construct a new storage building so students can transition from obtaining a learner’s permit to become CDL holders.


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With its $265,000 grant, Northeast Iowa Community College will buy tractor-trailer systems enabling it to offer more classes. Funds will also help build a storage building and install a concrete bypass road for training to reduce the present need to train drivers through its Peosta campus.

A new truck driving simulator will go to Iowa Lakes Community College. It also will use its $240,000 grant to purchase a two-truck and trailer combination. Receiving the lowest grant ($68,840), Iowa Valley Community College also will buy a simulator.

A $214,500 grant was awarded to Iowa Western Community College. Western Iowa Tech Community College received $292,752. Both will use a portion of their funds to buy training vehicles.

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