About Course to College

Prepare Apply Finance Decide Go

The Future Ready Iowa goal

Improving college attainment is critical to the growth of Iowa's economy. A report released by the Branstad-Reynolds Administration in collaboration with the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) projects that by 2025, 68 percent of all jobs in Iowa will require postsecondary education.

In addition, as educational attainment increases, income increases and the percentage of the population living in poverty decreases. For Iowans with only a high school degree, the poverty rate is three times higher than those with a bachelor's degree or higher. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey)

Building a college-going culture

The goal of Course to College is to promote a college-going culture in schools, school districts, communities, and throughout the state of Iowa.

Iowa College Aid defines college as a degree-awarding institution. Completion is defined as the act of earning a postsecondary degree, certificate, or credential.  

Course to College recognizes the following college pathways:

  • Associate and bachelor’s degrees
  • Certificate and credential programs
  • Registered apprenticeships
  • Industry certifications

What is Course to College?

An all-encompassing program to support high schools in creating a college-going culture through five steps: prepare, apply, finance, decide, and go. Iowa College Aid provides the essential support and resources for schools to cultivate a college-going culture from college preparedness through the transition to higher education. High schools that create a strong college-going culture are more likely to have students who pursue postsecondary education.

Prepare (Early Awareness)

As early as elementary school, it is important to begin preparing students to think about what they want to do when they complete high school. Course to College programming enhances district plans, provides strategies to build a college-going culture, and supports school staff in coordinating exploration opportunities.

Apply (Application Campaign)

As part of a national effort to assist students, especially those from underserved populations, Course to College programming promotes a statewide application campaign. Participating schools offer time throughout the school day for students to complete an application and assist them in navigating the admissions process.

Finance (FAFSA Completion & Financial Aid)

Targeted data allows schools to identify seniors who have not completed or filed a FAFSA and offer follow-up assistance. Iowa College Aid provides student-specific data through partnerships with the U.S. Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Education, Area Education Agencies, and high schools.

Decide (Decision Day)

School events and activities recognize high school seniors for their college decision and encourage the college aspirations of underclassmen. Activities and events are held on or around May 1 to coincide with the date most seniors must inform a college of their plans to enroll.

Go (Summer Melt Prevention)

Once students choose a college, they still need to take major steps during the summer between high school graduation and the start of their college classes. Course to College programming fights “summer melt” by ensuring that students fulfill their requirements before their courses begin, setting them up for success on Day One.

Register for Course to College

Partner Site vs. Participant Site

For the 2019-2020 school year, registering schools will need to select their involvement level by choosing to be either a Participant Site or a Partner Site. See below for the level of involvement and expectations for each.

If your school is a GEAR UP Iowa school or hosts Course to College AmeriCorps members, your school is a Partner Site. Pease email us if you are unsure who coordinates your school’s Course to College programming.

Participant Sites

Commitments from sites:

  • Participate in components as able.

Commitments from Iowa College Aid:

  • General college-going marketing materials.
  • Access to Shared Resources folder with other registered sites.
  • Course to College weekly email.
  • Invitation to weekly Collaboration Calls with other registered sites.
  • Statewide data.
Partner Sites

Please Note: Partner Sites are not required to create something new to meet their commitments and should determine what programming components best meet the specific needs of their site and students.

Commitments from sites:

  • Host an application event and/or activity (fall).
  • Use FAFSA completion data to inform students of their completion status (November–May).
  • Host a decision celebration event and/or activity (spring).
  • Develop a Summer Contact Plan (spring).
  • Implement college preparation practices (year-round).
  • Submit data to Iowa College Aid for each component via Google Form (5 total surveys throughout the school year)

Commitments from Iowa College Aid:

  • General college-going marketing materials.
  • Access to Shared Resources folder with other registered sites.
  • Course to College weekly email.
  • Invitation to weekly Collaboration Calls with other registered sites.
  • Statewide data.
  • Eligibility to apply for mini grants to support programming.
  • Student incentives for their participation in programming.
  • Site-specific data reports (twice per year).
  • Programming materials for students.
  • Eligibility for Course to College Corps member
  • Eligibility for Student Leader Corps position*

*Partner Sites can nominate up to 2 students to serve their school. Students must be 17+ years of age. Selected students will receive a stipend and education award.

 Please email us for more information.