Iowa College Aid Insider - February
Celebrate your students! Celebrate College!
Want to know which students still need to apply for financial aid?
State scholarship and grant deadlines fast approaching
Des Moines Harding Middle School students are college bound!
Free, on-site FAFSA assistance available February and March
Federal administration proposes new investments in the Pell Grant
What to expect if you are selected for verification
You’ve heard of signing day for athletes, right? Let’s celebrate academics in the same fashion. Participate in National College Signing Day 2016, also known as College Decision Day, on April 26.
College Decision Day gives high schools and communities the opportunity to recognize high school seniors for their decisions to continue their education beyond high school and is step three of Iowa College Aid’s 3 Step Process towards building a college-going culture.
Iowa College Aid invites you to celebrate your students’ hard work by hosting a College Decision Day event at your school. Whether a large, city-wide event or a school-based day, the experience is sure to leave your students with a feeling of pride and excitement for their future.
Have your students completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2016-17 academic year?
A completed FAFSA allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine a potential student’s eligibility for federal student aid – a key factor in families’ college decisions. It is also used by many states, including Iowa, as well as colleges and universities to determine eligibility for financial aid programs they award.
As of early February, just over 4,300 out of over 38,000 Iowa high school seniors had submitted a FAFSA, leaving lots of students unaccounted for so far.
Do you wish there was a way to identify which of your students have completed a FASFA? Iowa College Aid can make that happen. Through the Iowa FAFSA Completion Initiative, Iowa College Aid is able to share student-specific FAFSA completion information with Iowa high schools and school districts. Once a data-sharing agreement is in place, your student information can be at your fingertips.
Learn more about the initiative by contacting Keyli Keifer.
Iowa College Aid administers several state scholarships and grants available to Iowa residents attending eligible Iowa colleges or universities. The following financial aid opportunities have March 1 deadlines or priority deadlines:
Governor Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship Deadline: March 1
This scholarship recognizes outstanding high school seniors who have actively participated in the Iowa State Fair. Up to four scholarships ranging in $500 to $1,000 are awarded to Iowa students who enroll at Iowa colleges or universities. Students must complete a FAFSA and Iowa Financial Aid Application to apply. Learn more at Iowa College Aid’s website.
All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship Priority Deadline: March 1
This scholarship is available to Iowa students who have a minimum 2.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale and demonstrate financial need. Students must complete the Iowa Financial Aid Application and a FAFSA to apply. Learn more at Iowa College Aid’s website.
All Iowa Opportunity Foster Care Grant and Education Training Voucher Priority Deadline: March 1
These programs provide funds to students who are in foster care, were in foster care, were adopted from foster care or have graduated from a state training school. The grant programs cover educational costs of up to $8,569 per year for the Foster Care Grant and $5,000 per year for the ETV program. Learn more about the Foster Care Grant and ETV program at Iowa College Aid’s website.
It is not unusual to hear about high school students attending college fairs and learning about the college-going process. But middle schools students? Harding Middle School in Des Moines, IA broke the mold last fall by hosting a College and Career Day for their 8th grade students. The event was a collaborative effort among school staff and multiple programs, including I Have a Dream, Community in Schools and GEAR UP Iowa.
Hundreds of students were given the opportunity to learn about postsecondary options and resources available to them for their “13th grade”. Students rotated through a college fair, spoke with college admissions counselors and wrote down their dreams on graduating class posters at the Iowa College Aid/GEAR UP booth. During the class time, students listened to several speakers talk about their careers. "This all-in approach by our Harding team and community partners illustrates our commitment to preparing our students for postsecondary experiences,” said Joy Linquist, Harding Principal.
This event is just one hands-on example of how GEAR UP Iowa is working with its partner schools throughout the state to increase the number of students who are college ready. GEAR UP is a program of the Department of Education and is administered in Iowa through Iowa College Aid. For more information on GEAR UP Iowa and the communities it serves, please visit GEARUPIowa.gov or contact GEAR UP Iowa.
Do you or does someone you know need help completing the FAFSA? If you are intimidated by the process or have questions, don't tackle it alone.
College Goal Sunday provides free assistance to students and families in filing the FAFSA. Trained volunteers will be at College Goal Sunday events taking place across the state in February and March at a location near you! Please contact the College Goal Sunday Committee with any questions. Happy filing!
Two new proposals if enacted would provide Pell Grant year-round and encourage students to take more credits per term, increasing their likelihood of on-time completion:
- Pell for Accelerated Completion - would allow full-time students to earn a third semester of Pell Grant in an academic year.
- On-Track Pell Bonus - would incentivize students with an increased Pell Grant award for taking at least 15 credits per semester in an academic year.
In fiscal year 2017, these changes would mean an additional $2 billion in Pell Grants for students working toward their degrees. The press release announcing these proposals can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Verification is the process by which colleges review student financial aid applications for accuracy. Roughly 30 percent of all FAFSAs filed are selected for verification and the process must be completed before financial aid can be awarded. Know what to expect in the chance that you are selected for verification.
Education Empowers, the official blog of Iowa College Aid, provides practical, informative and engaging tips and insight related to financial aid and college planning.