Updated: 06/06/2014 6:29 PM
Created: 06/06/2014 5:13 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- Even though classes won't start for another few months, colleges are already focused on the batch of students for next year.
And now two local schools are shifting their focus South.
On Friday morning, the presidents of both Riverland Community College and Minnesota State University - Mankato approved a new partnership designed to bring more Iowa students into the two schools.
The new “Future Maverick" program gives prospective students a direct path from Riverland to Mankato, guaranteeing them in-state tuition rates as they pursue their two and then four-year degrees.
The program is one of the first for Minnesota state schools to offer Iowa students the same tuition rates as Minnesota students.
"The most common question I'm asked from our alums is, ‘When are you going to knock down the barriers to out-of-state tuition? Because our students can't afford to come if they have to pay out-of-state tuition,’” said Richard Davenport, president of MSU - Mankato.
"I think it's good for us too. We advance diversity, inclusiveness, and students will come here and they will get the scholarship to transfer to Mankato,” said Adenuga Atewologun, president at Riverland. “So it's a win-win for all students."
Officials said the program will help not only students, but also the schools and the communities they occupy.
"This will be a way for us to actually attract qualified people from wherever they are, especially in the specialized fields that we offer,” Atewologun said.
"We look to have a lot of students move into Albert Lea, Austin, into Owatonna that might not otherwise even consider going there for a two-year degree,” Davenport said.
Officials said at the end of the day, they want to build a skilled workforce and educate students regardless of where they come from.
"It's all about trying to give the students the opportunities that they might not get otherwise,” Davenport said.
Officials at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City said while they have no tuition agreements with other four-year universities, they do work closely to align their academic programs.
Officials said they also offer in-state tuition to all Minnesota students attending NIACC.