Recent News


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.”



Des Moines, Iowa
July 18, 2022

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

The program has now awarded more than $3.2 million to 20 communities in Iowa

Iowa College Aid has awarded $468,724 in grants to 11 communities across Iowa to fund Local College Access Networks (LCAN) in fiscal year 2023. Local College Access Networks support the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowa have some level of education beyond high school by 2025.

The LCAN grant series is a four-year model with annual awards averaging near $50,000. For fiscal year 2023, Iowa College Aid offered supplemental support to three LCAN communities that recently finished the series. Ten of the 11 funded LCAN communities are returning grantees.

Math Pathways to Success is the newest initiative to be awarded LCAN funding. Math Pathways to Success is a statewide initiative that focuses on eliminating barriers to college attainment that arise in the transition from high school to postsecondary math courses.

Following is a list of the FY2023 LCAN grant recipients by year (asterisks indicate a statewide initiative):

Year I:
● Math Pathways to Success

Year II:
● Brother to Brother (Des Moines)
● Perry LCAN

Year IV:
● Black Hawk County CAN
● Carroll Area CAN
● Latinos CAN*
● OPT-in CAN for System Involved Youth*
● Story County CAN

Supplemental Support:
● Aligned Impact Muscatine County (AIM)
● Dubuque CAN
● La Luz - Mission Possible Franklin County

“The Carroll Regional College Access Network is providing direct FAFSA completion assistance to high school students and families in 10 area high schools. We are also increasing awareness of the Governor’s Last-Dollar Scholarship initiative through social media, advertisements, direct mailings, and presentations,” said Jen Wolleson, Carroll Regional CAN Coordinator. “Events, programs, and opportunities have been extremely successful and were made possible by the Carroll area receiving a Local College Access Network Grant from Iowa College Aid.”

An LCAN’s goal is to increase college attainment, using a framework known as “Collective Impact.” Iowa College Aid provides grants to fund an LCAN Coordinator, travel, training, and other costs associated with convening the network and carrying out LCAN initiatives.

Iowa College Aid staff provides comprehensive technical assistance, consultation and professional development opportunities. Each LCAN assesses the needs of its community and works to fill the gaps in partnership with local colleges, school districts, area education agencies, business groups, elected officials, employers and community and religious organizations. LCANs identify multiple community goals that focus on increasing college attainment and building increased FAFSA completion into their identified goals.

“LCANs are a critical component of Iowa College Aid’s mission to increase success through postsecondary educational opportunities for all Iowans,” said Iowa College Aid executive director Dr. Mark Wiederspan. “Last year, our LCANs reached more than 31,000 students and families and helped foster a college-going culture in the communities they served. We’re excited to partner with many existing communities to build upon the foundation created while welcoming a new LCAN that will benefit Iowans statewide.”

Since 2015, Iowa College Aid has awarded $3,275,697 to LCANs in 20 communities to help reach these goals.

More information about Iowa’s LCANs is available at