Iowa College Aid Insider - September

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Iowa College Application Campaign Kicks Off October 1
President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Visit North High School in Des Moines
Order Your 2015-16 Your Course to College Guide
FAFSA Comment Period to Close October 13
Postsecondary Data Webinar Series
National GEAR UP Week
GEAR UP Iowa and Grand View University Host First-Generation Conference
Iowa College Aid Welcomes Jayna Grauerholz
New Report by the Association of Community College Trustees
Top Questions about Paying for College

Iowa College Application Campaign Kicks Off October 1

Nearly 80 Iowa  high schools are participating in the fourth annual Iowa College Application Campaign, sponsored by Iowa College Aid and supported by the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Association for College Admission Counseling (Iowa ACAC), School Administrators of Iowa (SAI), Iowa Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (IASFAA) and Iowa College Access Network (ICAN). Held throughout the month of October, the Iowa College Application Campaign is part of a national effort to build awareness of higher education and encourage students, especially those from underserved populations, to take a significant step toward college by completing college applications during their senior year of high school.
Throughout October, students at the participating high schools will have the opportunity to complete at least one college application during the school day with assistance from. Schools can customize events and adapt activities with support and resources from Iowa College Aid. Volunteers from supporting associations, college admissions officers and community members provide student assistance to ensure applications are completed and submitted. Students and staff are encouraged to share pictures from the events as well as reasons why college is important on social media using #Iapplied.

“It’s really changed the culture here at the high school,” said Suzanne Schrader, school counselor at Clinton High School. “A large number of jobs for kids graduating now and in the next four years are going to require some sort of postsecondary education. It’s not just certain kids going to college, but that everyone can go to college.”

More information about the Iowa College Application Campaign, including the registration form, a list of participating high schools and event dates and the online volunteer sign-up form, can be found on our website. Questions about the campaign should be directed to our campaign coordinator, Keyli Keifer at

President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Visit North High School in Des Moines

Karen Misjak and Commissioner Janet Adams had the honor of attending the town hall meeting at North High School On Tuesday, September 15, 2015 where President Obama made an impromptu stop with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The town hall was part of Secretary Duncan’s annual Back-to-School Bus Tour. This year’s “Ready for Success” tour included stops in Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Champaign and Williamsfield, Illinois; West Lafayette and Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Iowa College Aid was included on the highly sought invite list based on the agency’s work with college access and FAFSA completion. Staff had previously provided Secretary Duncan’s team with information on school districts who have worked hard to improve FASFA completion. The data was influential in the determination of the bus stops in Iowa.

During the event at North, President Obama touted the administration’s new college scorecard and their plans to allow students and families to file the FAFSA in October using prior, prior year data. The change will take place October 1, 2016. Several media outlets covered the town hall, including the Des Moines Register, KCCI 8 News, USA Today and WHO TV 13.

Order Your 2015-16 Your Course to College Guide

Your Course to College, Iowa College Aid’s premiere college planning guide is available for the 2015-16 school year. This free resource, which can be ordered at, is full of information to help students as they prepare for college and careers after high school. A favorite among Iowa high school counselors and college coordinators, the guide covers everything to help student make the transition to college easier.

“Our school utilizes the Your Course to College guide extensively with our seniors every year,” said Meri Edel, school counselor at Marshalltown High School. “This college-planning resource is an excellent resource for them to get a comprehensive look at colleges in Iowa, learn more about financial aid and set the wheels in motion for their college-planning process!”

In addition to the directory of Iowa colleges and universities, this year’s guide contains new content based on suggestions from school counselors.  Iowa high school counselors were surveyed last year to determine topics where students lacked knowledge and understanding. Based on those findings, the following new content was added:

  • Recommended college prep courses
  • The college admissions process, including factors in the admissions decision
  • Career outlook
  • Finding the right fit
  • Choosing a major
  • A breakdown of college costs
  • Successfully transitioning from high school to college

FAFSA Comment Period to Close October 13

The draft version of the proposed 2016-2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available for review.  There is a notable policy change in regards to information disseminated to colleges.  The proposed verbiage of the text change on the FAFSA is as follows, “All of the information you included on your FAFSA, with the exception of the list of colleges, will be sent to each of the colleges you listed.  In addition, all of your FAFSA information, including the list of colleges, will be sent to your state student grant agency.  For federal student aid purposes, it does not matter in what order you list your selected schools. For state aid, you may want to list your preferred college first.”

The policy change will be complete after a 60-day public comment period ending October 13 and final approval is given by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

Postsecondary Data Webinar Series

Today’s global and knowledge-based economy has made a college degree the new minimum for students to succeed. The development, implementation and evaluation of college- and career-ready policies require that schools turn data into actionable information.

In an effort to help Iowa schools access and use available data to support college- and career-readiness initiatives, Iowa College Aid has partnered with David Ford, Postsecondary Success Lead at the Mississippi Bend AEA, to provide the following on-demand webinars for a series on leveraging postsecondary data.

Why Secondary Educators Need Postsecondary Data

This presentation shares the purpose behind various CCR initiatives in Iowa, and how K-12 school districts can use postsecondary data to support these initiatives and improve student outcomes. Data to be examined include both the Iowa SLDS High School Feedback Reports and National Student Clearinghouse data.

Nuts and Bolts of Using Postsecondary Data

This presentation provides a detailed look at statewide postsecondary data, including information related to the appropriate use of the data to improve postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion, as well as FAFSA completion. Participants will learn how and where to access these data, and how to incorporate them into school improvement.

If you have questions about the presentations, please contact Rachel Scott, Division Administrator for Outreach at Iowa College aid at

National GEAR UP Week

From college spirit and trivia events to motivational speakers and college-based dream walls, schools throughout Iowa celebrated National GEAR UP Week, Sept. 21-25, 2015. Highlighting Iowa College Aid’s GEAR UP Iowa Program, the events reflected the development of a college-going culture that GEAR UP Iowa is building with nearly 6,300 students in 12 Iowa school districts who will be ready to graduate high school in the Class of 2020.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Providing seven-year grants to states and partnerships to offer services at middle and high schools, a statewide GEAR UP grant was first awarded to Iowa College Aid in 2008.

In addition to the event pictures and highlights shared on social media and Iowa College Aid’s blog, Education Empowers, Iowa College Aid is excited to share a video highlighting Taylor Hills, a GEAR UP Iowa Alum. Taylor graduated from Columbus Junction High School in 2014 and is currently a student at St. Ambrose University. She shares how GEAR UP Iowa impacted her life and helped her push through the barriers to follow her dream.

GEAR UP Iowa and Grand View University Host First-Generation Conference

GEAR UP Iowa and Grand View University have teamed up to host a collaboration conference for education and community professionals aimed at helping first-generation students succeed. The conference will be held on Friday, October 16, 2015 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Grand View University Student Center.

The day will include a viewing and discussion of the College Board/Road Trip Nation documentary film, Why Not Us, a panel of first generation students and alumni, a variety of breakout sessions and resources to help first-generation students  transition to and thrive in a college environment.

The deadline to register for the conference is Friday, October 9. There is not registration fee and a continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.  Questions about the conference should be directed to GEAR UP Iowa Facilitator, Tiffany Berkenes at

Iowa College Aid Welcomes Jayna Grauerholz

Jayna Grauerholz joined Iowa College Aid as a Postsecondary Registration Compliance Officer on September 3, 2015.  Jayna received her Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University.  She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grand View University in Criminal Justice and Human Services with minors in Sociology and Psychology and an Associate of Arts from Des Moines Area Community College. Jayna is admitted to the State Bar of Iowa and is also admitted to practice in the federal courts of Iowa and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before becoming a Postsecondary Registration Compliance Officer with Iowa College Aid, Jayna worked as a staff attorney at a nonprofit law center providing legal advocacy to individuals with disabilities. She has interned in both a public defender’s office and a county attorney’s office. Jayna is passionate about providing advocacy and protection to underserved and at-risk populations by ensuring regulatory compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.

New Report by the Association of Community College Trustees

A new report by the Association of Community College Trustees analyzed student-level data from Iowa community college borrowers to better understand student borrowing and repayment behavior. The goal of the study was to clearly identify contributing factors to student loan defaults that could be used to develop solutions by the community colleges and policy makers.  The Study reveals a number of factors that contribute to student loan defaults:

  1. Students who borrow the least are the most likely to default.
  2. Many defaulters take no action on their debt.
  3. A large number of borrowers, especially defaulters, are not progressing or completing a credential.
  4. Institutions lack access to complete information and a user-friendly way to analyze loan data, making default management unnecessarily difficult.

Top Questions about Paying for College

An article in the Wall Street Journal was recently published about the top questions students and families need to ask about paying for college. The article points out that parents who do not take a hard look at finances could assume mountains of debt they have to pay off well into retirement or saddle their children with decades of loans.

The questions they recommend all families ask include:

  1. What does the student want to get out of college?
  2. How much are parents willing to contribute?
  3. How much longer might parents have to work?
  4. Should the student help out by working?
  5. How much debt should the student take on?
  6. Will the student be able to pay back the debt?
  7. What does financial aid look like for all four years?
  8. Should students consider a community college?

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 26, 2018 at 9:16am.