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Iowa College Aid

Recent News

The Iowa Department of Education's Bureau of Iowa College Aid will hold a public hearing in the Commission Boardroom  Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 at 4 p.m. regarding the administrative rules on uniform policies for both the Future Ready Iowa Grant and the Workforce Grant and Incentive Program.

Iowa College Aid will hold a public hearing on the Regulatory Analysis on Chapter 10 and Chapter 34 of Iowa Administrative Code. The hearing will be held at the Iowa College Aid office on August 2, from 4 to 4:30 p.m.

Effective July 1, 2023, Iowa College Aid will become part of the Iowa Department of Education. This change is being made as part of a broader state government realignment to bring together entities working with similar subject matter. Iowans can expect the same quality services they have come to expect from Iowa College Aid while benefiting from strengthened connections and coordination between programs that support college and career readiness.

Please contact the Iowa Department of Education at with any questions about the alignment.

What happened to the Last-Dollar Scholarship?

The Last-Dollar Scholarship still exists and is not going away. However, action taken during this last legislative session required changes to the program’s eligibility requirements.

Since its beginning, the Last-Dollar Scholarship has experienced significant growth in the number of recipients, especially among students with high Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amounts and low financial need. For example, recipients with a high EFC previously represented roughly 11 percent of all Last-Dollar Scholarships. Today, the share is almost 25 percent.

While the number of applicants continues to grow, the funding for the program will remain the same for the coming year. As a result, it was necessary to reassess the program’s eligibility requirements. Iowa College Aid worked closely with the Governor’s office, the legislature, and Iowa’s community colleges to find a solution that provides students most in need of financial assistance the support necessary to achieve their educational and career goals. The consensus among the group led to the legislature passing the requirement that applicants have an EFC at or below $20,000 to qualify for the award during the 2023-2024 academic year.

Why am I no longer eligible?

A law passed during the 2023 legislative session requires applicants to have an EFC at or below $20,000 to qualify for the Last-Dollar Scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year. Therefore, you will not be eligible for an award if you have an EFC greater than $20,000.

Why am I just finding out about this now?

Iowa College Aid just released its awarding parameters for all state-funded aid programs. This includes the Last-Dollar Scholarship. Unfortunately, appropriations for state-funded aid programs did not occur until the end of the legislative session, and the Governor signed the bill June 1. We are working to communicate the change in Last-Dollar Scholarship eligibility to individuals who we anticipate will be impacted.

What am I supposed to do now?

If your financial circumstances have changed, consult with the financial aid office at your college to explore other options to help finance your postsecondary education.

Perry High School is one of just 23 schools in the nation to earn the honor

Perry High School has been named a 2022 School of Excellence award winner by the American College Application Campaign (ACAC), a national effort to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. The 23 Schools of Excellence are a group of exemplary schools across the nation that are helping students pursue postsecondary success.

ACAC recognized Perry High School for the welcoming environment it provides its students, especially in its college and career readiness curriculum. Perry regularly hosts events to engage students and empower them to meet their postsecondary education goals. Perry’s school counseling staff works directly in classrooms and offers specific times to assist students with their planning and college applications. In addition to providing direct assistance, staff connects students with college representatives and celebrates every college application students submit to make it a community experience and process.

ACAC, a national initiative of ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning, selected the Schools of Excellence based on their demonstrated commitment to student success and serving as an exemplary model for their state’s college application campaign. This is the third year that ACAC has recognized outstanding schools.

“There could not be a more critical time for us all to support students and educators, and the remarkable reach of this year’s application campaign demonstrates the value and strength of these collaborations,” ACAC Director Lisa King said. “As students continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we must do all we can to remove the barriers they tell us they have in accessing the education opportunities that are right for them. We are extremely proud of this year’s School of Excellence awardees, as they are true examples of how communities can work together to help students succeed.”

Each year, ACAC works with designated coordinators in every state and the District of Columbia to host college application events and reach students in their schools and communities, encouraging them to apply to college. Activities to encourage college applications at the 2022 Schools of Excellence included one-on-one mentoring, guest speakers, parents’ nights, and support for pursuing financial aid.

The 23 winning schools were key contributors in helping ACAC reach the following national achievements, as reported by 45 state campaigns on the 2022 annual survey:

  • nearly 5,150 high schools hosted a College Application Campaign event
  • more than 290,299 seniors submitted at least one college application during events
  • approximately 959,178 applications were submitted during 2022 College Application Campaign events.

The winning schools will receive a plaque and be celebrated during virtual ceremonies.

Nationally, more than 4.2 million students have been served by ACAC and 7.3 million applications have been submitted since the Campaign began in 2005.

Iowa College Aid is accepting new grant applications to develop Local College Access Networks (LCANs) across Iowa until May 31.

LCANs help communities across the state to address workforce needs and increase educational attainment through the LCAN grant series. Iowa College Aid provides consultation and funding to select Iowa networks, using the Collective Impact framework to increase college attainment at the local and statewide level.

Year I applications will be accepted through from April 15 - May 31, 2023, for Fiscal Year 2024 (July 1, 2023 - June 30, 2024).  

These new grant applications are multi-year grants with a renewal process at the start of each new year.  

To learn more about what the Iowa LCAN Grant can offer your community, please contact Anne Thomas ( or Megan Sibbel ( to assist you with the grant application process. 

More information on LCANs can be found at

Iowa Wesleyan University announced March 28, 2023 that it will cease operations May 31, 2023. More information for former students can be found below.

Iowa Wesleyan Information


Des Moines, Iowa
February 27, 2023

Ty Patton
(o) 515-725-3417 (c) 205-310-1271

Iowa College Aid's research finds the FAFSA Simplification Act may have a negative impact for some Iowans

The upcoming implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act will streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process and increase the number of Iowans eligible to receive Pell grants. However, according to a recently published report by Iowa College Aid, the act may also negatively impact some Iowans’ financial aid eligibility.

Those most likely to be negatively affected by this change include farm owners, small business owners, and families with multiple students in college.

“The FAFSA Simplification Act is certainly a step in the right direction to make postsecondary education more affordable and accessible,” said Iowa College Aid executive director Dr. Mark Wiederspan. “But in states such as Iowa, where family farms and small businesses are the backbones of many communities, we are concerned that without minor changes to the FAFSA Simplification Act, it has the potential to have the opposite intended effect for some Iowans.”

The report, titled “The FAFSA Simplification Act: Policy Simulations and Implications for State Aid Programs,” models the effects of changes coming to the FAFSA starting Oct. 1, 2023.

Iowa College Aid’s research focused on the updates to the formula used to determine financial need, known as the Student Aid Index (SAI), which replaced the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in the FAFSA’s financial needs analysis calculation.

Iowa College Aid’s analysis and projections of the FAFSA Simplification Act found that:

  • The SAI for many will likely be lower than their current EFC, leading to an increase in the number of Pell grant recipients and greater Pell grant awards.
  • The SAI considers family farms and small businesses as assets, leading many Iowans to appear wealthier than they are.
  • The SAI formula does not consider the number of family members in college.
  • A small share of college-going Iowans will likely lose their eligibility for the Iowa Tuition Grant, Iowa’s largest financial aid program.

Under the previous needs analysis formula used by the FAFSA, if a family had an adjusted gross income of $60,000 and a family farm valued at the state average, their expected contribution would be $7,626 annually. However, under the SAI needs analysis formula, which counts farms and small businesses as liquid assets, Iowa College Aid estimates that same family would have to contribute up to $91,816 annually.

Similarly, if a family had two members in college and had an expected family contribution of $5,000, that total was split between the two college-going individuals. Under the SAI, that contribution would be for each family member in college, increasing the financial burden for families with more than one member in college. In addition, it may affect their eligibility for some financial aid programs.

Iowa College Aid has notified Iowa’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Education about these potential effects of the FAFSA Simplification Act and is urging a continued review of this policy and its impact. While the transition from EFC to SAI in the FAFSA Simplification Act will make education more affordable and attainable for many, Iowa College Aid is optimistic that policymakers can make efforts to minimize the negative impact this may have on a limited number of Iowans.

Des Moines, Iowa
August 31, 2022

Ty Patton
(o) 515-725-3417 (c) 205-310-1271

After four years of declining rates, Iowa’s current FAFSA completion rate equals last year’s

Nearly half of Iowa high school seniors in the class of 2022 applied for college financial aid via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, halting a four-year trend of declining FAFSA completion rates in the state. However, despite the FAFSA completion rate stabilizing, the rate has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, and significant equity gaps remain between gender, race, and income levels.

The findings are detailed in Iowa College Aid’s “FAFSA Filing in Iowa: 2022” report, available here.

During the 2022-23 FAFSA cycle, 49 percent of Iowa high school seniors completed the FAFSA, equaling last year’s percentage, which was the first FAFSA cycle to occur entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the percentage of Iowa high school seniors completing the FAFSA remained the same, it is a four percentage point decline from the 53 percent FAFSA completion rate achieved in the 2018-19 FAFSA cycle.

“Even though we have yet to return to our pre-pandemic FAFSA completion rate, we are encouraged that this year’s FAFSA completion rate has remained steady and hope this is an opportunity to drive those rates upward,” said Dr. Mark Wiederspan, Executive Director of Iowa College Aid. “Focusing on increasing our FAFSA completion rate is critical to help Iowa achieve its goal that 70 percent of the workforce have some form of postsecondary education and training. Our research also indicates students are more likely to attend and complete college if they complete the FAFSA.”

When separated by race and ethnicity, Asian, Hispanic, and Black students all experienced modest increases in FAFSA completion rates during the most recent FAFSA cycle. However, Hispanic and Black students still have the lowest FAFSA completion rates of any race/ethnicity, lagging the completion rate of White students by approximately 20 percentage points. 

Significant gaps in FAFSA completion rates also remain between female and male public high school seniors, as male students complete the FAFSA at a rate that trails their female counterparts by 15 percentage points. This rate remains consistent with results from the previous four FAFSA cycles.

These numbers underscore the importance of efforts to increase Iowa’s rates for filing the FAFSA, which is required for all federal and state financial aid and most forms of aid from colleges and universities. This summer, in partnership with the Iowa College Access Network, Iowa College Aid hired 11 FAFSA associates to help students file their applications and follow through on plans to seek postsecondary education.

Iowa College Aid is also hosting a FAFSA Learning Day Oct. 11 as part of FAFSA Awareness Week Oct. 10-14. The week is a statewide initiative to educate and inform Iowans with step-by-step strategies and information on completing the FAFSA and securing aid to finance postsecondary education.


Des Moines, Iowa
July 18, 2022

Ty Patton
(o) 515-725-3417 (c) 205-310-1271

Three Iowans with a history of Iowa State Fair participation earn awards

Three college-bound Iowans will receive the Governor Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship during a ceremony Saturday, August 13 at 6:45 p.m. on the Bill Riley Stage of the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The scholarship, named for the longtime Iowa governor and former U.S. ambassador to China, recognizes outstanding Iowa high school seniors who have actively participated in the fair.

The three recipients of the Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship were chosen based on participation in the fair, extracurricular activities, volunteer service to their communities, GPA, and a personal essay explaining the fair’s impact on their lives.

This year’s awardees include Ellyse Holubar of Solon High School, Hanna Bedwell of I-35 High School, and Brelynn Randall of Louisa-Muscatine High School. Each student will receive $2,000 to attend an Iowa college or university during the 2022-23 academic year.

  • Ellyse Holubar, a graduate of Solon High School, intends to enroll at St. Ambrose University and become a veterinarian. Holubar is a 4-H State Council member that shows sheep and rabbits at the Iowa State Fair and earned ‘Top Commercial Rabbit’ honors this year. Her quilt was also recognized as an ‘Outstanding Needle and Threads’ project, and she is a premier horticulture exhibitor. “Showing animals has taught me responsibility, patience, and caring. There is always more to learn, and I enjoy educating the public about animal care and breed varieties. My involvement with animals inspired my desire to become a veterinarian,” Holubar said.
  • Brelynn Randall, a graduate of Louisa-Muscatine High School, plans on attending Iowa State University to become a teacher. Randall has participated in a various 4-H activities at the Iowa State Fair, including showing animals, visual arts, food and nutrition, photography, sewing, and communication. Her participation in the communication project was transformative in confronting fears and building confidence. “This helped make me much more confident in my speaking abilities and comfortable in job interviews,” Randall said. “The speaking skills I gained from this project will help in my future career as a teacher.”
  • Hanna Bedwell, a graduate of I-35 High School, plans to attend Iowa State. She is a five-time FFA Reserve Champion in showing rabbits and has also shown cattle, goats, and lambs, in addition to being a horticulture and creative arts exhibitor. Bedwell cites the Iowa State Fair as the greatest and most influential event in her life and her family’s rich legacy at the Iowa State Fair. “I have attended every Iowa State Fair for 18 years and have created the best memories while learning life skills,” Bedwell said. “I am able to learn from others, be an advocate for agriculture, and share my passion with others. Experiences at the Iowa State Fair have helped me become confident and a productive asset to my community.”