Nearly $9.4 million in grant funds are available in Iowa to expand broadband access to rural Iowa and 43 colleges and universities in the state. 

The state of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Education awarded nearly $4.4 million to increase internet connectivity for students in the 2020-21 school year; $5 million in additional broadband grants are available through Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grants to give more Iowans access to broadband infrastructure. Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grants have been awarded since 2018. 

Funding for higher education broadband access comes from the state’s $26.2 million Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by the federal government earlier this year. Approximately $19.3 million in GEER funding has already been awarded to all 327 Iowa public school districts as well as accredited nonpublic schools to increase internet connectivity. 

An additional $1.5 million in GEER funds will be available for professional development to support online and remote instruction at Iowa higher education institutions. Applicants have until Dec. 11 to apply for those funds through the Iowa Department of Education’s website

“The future economy and quality of life in rural Iowa depend on every Iowa home, business and farm having high-speed internet access,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement. 

Applications for this round of Empower Rural Iowa Broadband are available online and  open through Nov. 22.