Iowa creates Entry-Level Driver Training Program; provides $6M

Student Driver sign on front of truck

Iowa has created a new truck driver training program and has dedicated $6 million in grant funding to increase the number of drivers.

Gov. Kim Reynolds Monday announced the newly created Iowa Entry-Level Driver Training Program to provide more opportunities for interested truck drivers to obtain their commercial driver's license in Iowa.  

“Truck drivers play such a critical role in meeting our supply chain demands -- ‘If you got it, a truck driver brought it’. Like the rest of the nation, Iowa, too, has a high demand for truck drivers; and in order to meet that demand, we need innovative solutions that reduce barriers for anyone interested in obtaining a CDL license,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This new program will break down barriers that currently exist for obtaining a CDL and provide support to organizations who sponsor these critical training opportunities right here in Iowa.”  

The new program will provide $6 million to support employers, nonprofits, or related organizations who sponsor or partner on key training programs designed to prepare potential drivers for CDL skills or knowledge tests. The grant program hopes to remove costly barriers and, ultimately, create more drivers with CDL licenses across the state. 

“The Entry-Level Driver Training Program provides more opportunities to obtain a CDL, but it also makes it easier for employers to recruit and train their own drivers,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “This effort will also make our state more competitive in these high-demand fields by helping employers offer the right training when and where their workers need it.”  

Earlier this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented Entry-Level Driver Training standards, requiring all new drivers to undertake additional training requirements on top of existing CDL standards. Current CDL training can be costly and/or limited, making the pathway to obtain or upgrade a license more difficult despite a much higher demand for drivers, said a statement from Reynolds. All training providers and drivers are required to meet all federal driving standards under the ELDT program.  

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Grant funding for the Iowa Entry-Level Driver Training Program will reimburse eligible organizations in Iowa that offer these critical training programs either in-house or through partnerships with certified training providers. If the program is provided in-house, reimbursement can be used on instructor wages, curriculum materials, and maintenance needs. If the program is offered via outside training providers, reimbursement must go towards Entry-Level Driver Training program tuition. 

Additional requirements: 

Eligible applicants: Iowa-based employers, employer consortiums, and non-profits who employ Iowa CDL drivers and provide Entry-Level Driver Training either in-house or through a partnership with third-party certified training providers.  

Funds are administered as reimbursement only following documented training certification and a CDL exam within 30 days of a participant’s first day of training (first day of either behind-the-wheel or theory). 

Applications will be accepted at beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and are due on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at 11:59 AM.  (Note: will undergo scheduled website maintenance and will be unavailable December 2-12) 

  • Visit this link for more information on the grant, its requirements, and the application process.  

  • A webinar will take place on Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. to provide more information on the grant and a Q&A session. Interested employers are encouraged to participate (Registration link).