Iowa College Aid Insider: Applying for College & Financial Aid (Dec. 2017)

Crunch time for college applications!

Most college application deadlines fall between January 1 and February 1, so it’s time to buckle down. Here are tips for filing applications, writing essays and lining up letters of recommendation:  

  • Apply to more than one school. Have a “safety school,” but also try for a “stretch school.” You might be surprised who accepts you, and you can’t truly compare costs until you have award letters. An expensive school could be your most affordable option if it offers a generous financial aid package.
  • Get help with application fees. These fees average about $40, but some schools waive them if you demonstrate financial need, file online or file by a certain deadline. Iowa’s public universities can’t waive fees, but you can request a deferral—the fee is charged with your first tuition payment, so you can use financial aid. Iowa’s community colleges don’t charge any fee to apply.
  • Write a solid essay. Outline first so you have an organized structure. Relate your essay to the question, and use specific examples. Walk away for a few days, then come back and read with fresh eyes. No matter how good a writer you are, always ask someone else to proofread. This process takes time, so don’t wait until the last minute. 
  • Don’t plagiarize. Copying someone else’s work is a cardinal sin in the academic world. If you look up other students’ essays for examples or inspiration, never copy and paste anything into your file. Even if you intend to rework the text and make it your own, substantial parts of the original writing might slip through. 
  • Line up letters of recommendation. Choose someone who knows you well and can speak to your unique strengths—maybe a teacher, advisor, coach, supervisor or clergy. This person will probably receive requests from multiple students, so give them plenty of time and be clear about deadlines. Offer some guidance. Would you like the letter to emphasize your leadership abilities? Provide examples they can use.
  • Be sure to submit. When you’re done with your online application, you should receive a confirmation, such as a “congratulations” screen or an email. If you don’t, check with the admissions office to see that your application went through. 

Watch for more college application tips from Iowa College Aid staff next Monday, December 4, on CW Iowa Live.

How to choose a major that fits

Did you know that choosing a major now can actually save you money later? Students who change majors after they start college often take longer to complete a degree, which means they spend more on tuition. Here are some factors to consider when choosing your major: 

  • Your interests. Think about the courses and activities you most enjoy. What do they have in common?
  • Your abilities. Which high school courses are your best subjects? Where are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  • Your work values. What is important to you? Examples of work values include helping others, contributing to your community, being creative, solving problems, working on a team, making a difference, leading others and being recognized.

Questions to ask. Five questions to ask yourself before you make a final decision on your major.

Scholarship available to families of Guard members

The Iowa National Guard Officers Auxiliary offers a $1,000 scholarship to Iowa students who have a parent, grandparent or spouse affiliated with the Iowa National Guard. Last year, three scholarships were awarded, and this year the Auxiliary has authorized up to five. The deadline to apply is February 1. 

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on March 22, 2018 at 10:42am.