Recent News

8.12.20

Receiving their awards from Ambassador Terry E. Branstad, left to right: Abigail Kelly of Des Moines, Ruth Marth of Estherville, and Blake Van Der Kamp of Prairie City.

Ambassador Terry E. Branstad honored three young Iowans who earned his namesake scholarship today. The former Iowa Governor presented certificates to the students, who will start college this fall, in a small reception at the State Historical Building. They were chosen based on participation in the fair, extracurricular activities, volunteer service to their communities, GPA, and an essay explaining the fair’s impact on their lives.

“I’ve always been a strong supporter of Iowa agriculture and the Iowa State Fair,” Branstad told the students and their families. “I believe the fair is a great opportunity for young people to showcase their talents.”

Each student will receive $2,000 to attend an Iowa college or university during the 2020-21 academic year. This year’s recipients of the Governor Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship:

  • Abigail Kelly of Des Moines is the 2020 Iowa Honey Queen and a volunteer at the Iowa Honey Producers Association fair booth. Two of her 4-H projects about beekeeping were selected to represent Polk County at the State Fair, and she has entered honey, beeswax candles, beeswax art, photography, and extracted frames and honey frames in competition, as well as competing in the adult piano playing competition. In 2019, she painted kindness rocks and hid them around the fair. Abigail also volunteers for her local library’s reading program, plays piano at her church, and serves as volunteer beekeeper at the Science Center of Iowa. She says the fair has pushed her out of her comfort zone and helped her grow as a public speaker and performer. She plans to attend Faith Baptist Bible College.
  • Ruth Marth of Estherville has earned six blue ribbons at the State Fair for sewing and needle arts, communication, clothing and fashion, and welding, as well as five Seals of Merit and one Seal of Excellence for extemporaneous speaking and education presentations. While the Seal of Excellence was a longtime goal, Ruth says her most valuable lesson came from initially falling short and embracing the 4-H motto, “To Make the Best Better.” She is a founding leader of the Emmet County Rhythm Group, which has performed several times at the fair, and has competed in the Emmet County Fair Queen contest. She is a member of the marching, jazz, and concert bands and the varsity and jazz choirs at Estherville Lincoln Central High School. Ruth also volunteers at Good Samaritan Nursing Home, where she was named Volunteer Champion of the Year. She plans to attend Iowa Lakes Community College and to continue her involvement in 4-H as an adult assistant.
  • Blake Van Der Kamp of Prairie City credits the State Fair for expanding his horizons. Encouraged by a teacher, he entered a photograph as a high school sophomore and calls its display one of his proudest moments. Since then, Blake has served as an FFA usher and volunteered at the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters, sheep shearing show, Paul R. Knapp Animal Learning Center, and Farm to Fair dinner. In addition to photography, he has exhibited in ag mechanics and poultry. In his community, Blake launched recycling and school supply drives and volunteered for a local food pantry and for SportAbility of Iowa Adapted Sports Camp. His activities at PCM High School include speech competition, FFA, art club, student government, and National Honor Society. He has also appeared in theatrical productions at his school and at Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre, one of which earned a Cloris Award. Blake plans to attend Iowa State University.

“We’re very proud of these young people and their efforts to explore new opportunities through the Iowa State Fair,” Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan said. “In their essays, they all said the fair had challenged them to reach farther and higher. We’re confident that spirit will serve them well throughout their college experience.”

The scholarship is named for Branstad, Iowa’s governor from 1983 to 1999 and 2011 to 2017, and current U.S. ambassador to China. Also honored today was Hannah Koellner of Eddyville, the 2019 State Fair Queen. With the fair and the queen competition canceled this year, she will continue her reign until August 2021.

 

 

 


8.7.20

CONTACT

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257
elizabeth.sedrel@iowa.gov

Nearly $600,000 will help continue community efforts to raise educational attainment

Twelve Local College Access Networks in Iowa have received a new round of funding to continue their work increasing college attainment, Iowa College Aid announced today. The $587,350 awarded for fiscal year 2021 brings the total awarded since the program’s inception in 2015 to $2,218,350.

Local College Access Networks, or LCANs, use a framework known as collective impact, bringing together leaders in education, business, government, philanthropy, and nonprofits to break down barriers to higher education. Iowa College Aid provides funding, training, and technical assistance.

“LCAN grants allow communities to identify the greatest needs of their students and employers,” Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan said. “This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. This is a model that positions students for educational and career success and communities for economic success, as well as moving Iowa toward its Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of the workforce will have education beyond high school by 2025.”

One-year grants were made in July to the following LCANs:

  • Aligned Impact Muscatine (AIM), $50,000
  • Black Hawk County CAN, $50,000
  • Carroll Area CAN, $50,000
  • Dubuque CAN, $49,234
  • Latinos CAN, $59,825
  • Mason City CAN, $44,361
  • Mission Possible Franklin County, $46,775
  • OPT-in CAN for System Involved Youth, $50,000
  • Ottumwa Cradle-College-Career (C3), $49,776
  • Quad Cities CAN, $37,500
  • Queer Supports Advisory Team (QSAT), $49,878.82
  • Story County CAN, $50,000

“Our Dubuque College Access Network has brought together workforce and education to assure that systems are in place for high school students to develop postsecondary plans,” said Donna Loewen, coordinator of Dubuque’s network. “DCAN has helped to strengthen connections within the community, build relationships, and provide tangible support to help young people reach their goals.”

All 12 networks that received funding have been in existence at least a year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa College Aid suspended new applications this year.

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7.15.20

CONTACT

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257
elizabeth.sedrel@iowa.gov

Iowa FAFSA Completion Campaign and GEAR UP will step up outreach this fall

Iowa College Aid will redouble efforts this fall to encourage more high school seniors to apply for college financial aid after the number dropped in 2019-20 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Until mid-March, Iowa was on track to continue an upward trend in filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After that point, the rate dipped below the previous two years, according to a new report. 

“Iowa College Aid will step up outreach in 2020-21 to help more high school seniors file the FAFSA,” said Dr. Mark Wiederspan, executive director of Iowa College Aid.  ”Knowing how much financial aid students qualify for is a key to pursuing postsecondary education, which aligns with the Future Ready Iowa goal of 70 percent of the workforce having education or training beyond high school by 2025. The impact of COVID-19 makes it even more important to ensure students get this done.”

The report also found that FAFSA filing rates are lower for students attending high-poverty schools compared to more affluent schools. However, GEAR UP Iowa, a college access program that targets low-income students, shows promise in closing that gap. FAFSA filing rates are growing much more quickly at GEAR UP schools than at non-GEAR UP schools.

As of May 31, 52 percent of Iowa’s public high school seniors had applied for financial aid for the 2020-21 school year, down from 54 percent a year earlier, according to “FAFSA Filing in Iowa: 2020,” released by Iowa College Aid. Since then, however, the percentage of high school seniors filing the FAFSA has increased to 53.88 percent, nearly closing the gap. Iowa College Aid’s FAFA Completion Campaign includes a link to FAFSA filing rates for the state and each public high school: FAFSA.iowa.gov.

Students must file the FAFSA to qualify for federal aid, state-funded grants and scholarships, and many forms of aid provided by individual public and private colleges and universities.  

Download the report here or email Iowa College Aid to request a print copy.

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5.1.20

CONTACT

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257
elizabeth.sedrel@iowa.gov

Iowa College Aid’s “Condition of Higher Education” Also Reports Mixed News for College Readiness and Affordability

The percentage of Iowans with a college degree is growing, even as college enrollment rates are falling, according to a report released today by Iowa College Aid.

As of 2017, 43 percent of Iowans had an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree—2 percentage points higher than 2013, and also 2 percentage points higher than the national average. However, overall college enrollment in Iowa fell more than 7 percent from 2010 to 2018, partly due to an increase in available jobs during the recovery from the Great Recession. The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Grant were not in effect until fall 2019, so enrollment figures do not reflect those programs.

The “Condition of Higher Education in Iowa 2020” finds mixed results in other areas as well:

  • The cost of attendance at Iowa colleges and universities rose from 2010 to 2017, but the proportion of Iowa’s median income needed to cover the average net price (after financial aid) declined, suggesting that college is becoming more affordable.
  • Iowa continues to hold the No. 1 spot in the United States for high school graduation rates. At the same time, the state is losing ground in graduation rates for Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities.
  • Iowa tied for the highest average composite ACT score in the nation in 2019. However, Iowa’s average ACT score fell by a half-point from 2015 to 2019, with Black, Hispanic, and Native American students scoring considerably lower than Asian and white students.

“Significant racial and socioeconomic gaps in the college-going pipeline remain—gaps we must address to meet the state’s education goals,” Iowa College Aid Executive Director Mark Wiederspan wrote in his introduction to the report.

Iowa College Aid releases a “Condition of Higher Education” report every two years. Download this year’s report or request a printed copy at IowaCollegeAid.gov/Condition2020.


3.20.20
ACCESS CARES ACT FUNDS CARES ACT & STATE AID FUTURE READY IOWA CHANGES IN PROGRAM OFFERINGS STATE FINANCIAL AID

HOW TO ACCESS CARES ACT FUNDS FOR STUDENTS

April 14, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides roughly $14 billion in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to institutions of higher education using a formula based on student enrollment. You can find allocation amounts for Iowa institutions here.

Of the amount allocated to each institution, at least 50 percent must be reserved to provide students with emergency financial aid grants to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations. The U.S. Department of Education is prioritizing this funding stream to provide money to students in need as quickly as possible.

Follow these steps to access the funds:

Step 1

Your institution must have an account with Grants.gov. If you do not have a Grants.gov account, you can create one here.

Procedures and tips

Step 2

To locate this funding opportunity on Grants.gov, input one of these basic search criteria:

  • CFDA – 84.425
  • Funding Opportunity Number - ED-GRANTS-041020-003
  • Competition Title – Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund – IHEs
  • Closing Date – 09.30.2020

Submission guide

Step-by-step with screen shots

Step 3

Upload your institution’s Certificate of Agreement to Grants.gov. When filling out the Certificate of Agreement, enter your institution’s 50 percent direct-to-student allocation on the certificate, not the full 100 percent allocation. The U.S. Department of Education will announce availability of the remaining 50 percent soon.

CARES HEERF Certification and Agreement

Step 4

Complete the Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424).

Instructions

Step 5

Complete the Department of Education Supplemental Information Form for the SF-424.

Instructions

Note: The U.S. Department of Education encourages institutions to prioritize students with the greatest need and to consider establishing a per-student maximum to ensure that funds are distributed as widely as possible. One option is to use the Pell Grant maximum ($6,195 for 2019-20) as the threshold.

Additional information

Please direct questions to HEERF@ed.gov or Chris McCaghren, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs, at 202-453-7337 or christopher.mccaghren@ed.gov.


CARES ACT AND STATE AID ELIGIBILITY

April 14, 2020

With the continuation of the COVID-19 emergency, and pursuant to the enactment of the federal CARES Act and release of additional guidance by the Federal Department of Education, the guidance below has been developed to provide associated clarification in relation to state financial aid program eligibility.

Cost of attendance

State financial aid programs leverage the Title IV cost of attendance for award calculations. Given the updated federal guidance in relation to adjustments to cost of attendance (COVID-19 FAQs), the same guidance will apply to state financial aid programs. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, you do not need to adjust the cost of attendance for state financial aid award calculations in situations addressed by the federal guidance.

Refunds of state financial aid for students withdrawing from programs of study

Institutions are given flexibility in how state financial aid is refunded in the event a student withdraws during a term of enrollment, but the institution must have a policy clearly stating how state financial aid is refunded. Institutions can use their tuition refund policy, the Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4) calculation, or their policy for the return of institutional financial aid.

The temporary flexibility corresponding to the R2T4, pursuant to the enactment of the CARES Act, also applies to state financial aid for institutions that use R2T4 to calculate state financial aid refunds. Institutions that calculate state financial aid refunds according to their tuition refund policy or institutional financial aid refund policy already have a degree of internal flexibility to adjust those policies to meet student needs.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP)

Students must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements, according to the provisions of the Higher Education Act, as amended, to maintain eligibility for state financial aid. As such, recent changes to SAP enacted in the CARES Act will also apply to state financial aid eligibility.

Other provisions in the CARES Act

Section 3504 of the CARES Act allows Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) to be utilized as emergency financial aid grants to assist students impacted by COVID-19. Section 3504 also provides a special allowance to ensure these grant funds are not treated as other financial assistance. Federal veterans’ education benefits excluded from estimated financial assistance in the calculation of federal student aid are also excluded as financial assistance in the calculation of state financial aid programs administered by Iowa College Aid. As such, SEOG awarded under the provisions of Section 3504 of the CARES Act will also be excluded as financial assistance in the calculation of state financial aid awards. 

Section 18004 of the CARES Act provides emergency grant funding to institutions to assist students with expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Because these funds are not considered to be federal financial aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (guidance here), the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship will not need to be recalculated due to receipt of the emergency grant funds under Section 18004.


STUDENT ELIGIBILITY FOR FUTURE READY IOWA PROGRAMS

April 3, 2020

With the continuation of the COVID-19 emergency, the guidance below has been developed to address issues specifically related to the future eligibility of spring recipients of the Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant who were impacted by COVID-19. Additional guidance will be communicated as it is developed and approved. 

Governor Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency on March 17, 2020.

Enrollment status

The Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship (LDS) and Future Ready Iowa Grant (Grant) require a student to enroll in a minimum number of credit hours to maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment. If a student drops late start spring courses (within the corresponding add/drop period) to the extent that it adjusts their enrollment level below a threshold required for continued program eligibility, that student could become ineligible for the LDS or Grant in future terms of enrollment. 

Guidance for Spring Semester 2020: A student who was awarded the LDS or Grant, and was enrolled (officially registered) in at least the minimum number of credit hours in the spring term of enrollment as of 3/17/20, but subsequently does not attend or drops a class which reduces the student’s spring enrollment intensity below the minimum credit hour threshold, will continue to meet the continuous enrollment provisions in relation to LDS or Grant eligibility next fall (fall 2020).

Withdrawals

The LDS and Grant require students to continuously enroll during fall and spring terms of enrollment in order to maintain eligibility. Students who completely withdraw from classes during a fall or spring term of enrollment are considered to have broken continuous enrollment, and are therefore ineligible for funding in a future term of enrollment, unless granted a leave of absence in accord with the provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Guidance for Spring Semester 2020: A student who was awarded the LDS or Grant during the spring term of enrollment, but who withdrew from all courses on or after 3/17/20, will continue to meet the continuous enrollment provisions in relation to LDS or Grant eligibility next fall (fall 2020).

Please keep track of these student’s ICAPS® IDs as you come across them. We will request that information at a later date.


CHANGES IN PROGRAM OFFERINGS

March 26, 2020

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (“Commission”) is aware of the health concerns schools are facing because of the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and realizes that postsecondary schools registered or exempt under Iowa Administrative Code may need to cease face-to-face instruction to protect the well-being of students, staff, and faculty. The Commission acknowledges that postsecondary schools may find it necessary to offer distance education as an alternative mode of instruction for the Spring 2020 academic term and for a longer period if the school deems it necessary for the well-being of the school’s community. 

For postsecondary schools registered (authorized) with the Commission

For postsecondary schools registered under Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 261B, Iowa Administrative Rule 283 Chapter 21.3(15) requires schools to notify the Commission of any substantive changes in program offerings or location(s). To facilitate the required notification process during this rapidly changing public health crisis, please complete this online form as soon as possible.

For postsecondary schools exempt from registration with the Commission

For postsecondary schools exempt under Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 261B.11, in an effort to address potential student concerns and complaints, the Commission requests notification of any changes to your normal academic operations including substantive changes in program offerings or location(s). To facilitate the notification process during this rapidly changing public health crisis, please complete this online form as soon as possible. 

Resources

For information and resources regarding the Coronavirus, refer to the following:

Questions

If you have questions, email Jayne Smith, Postsecondary Registration Compliance Officer at jayne.smith@iowa.gov, Lisa Pundt, Postsecondary Registration Compliance Officer/SARA Portal Agent at lisa.pundt@iowa.gov, or Carolyn Small, Postsecondary Registration Administrator at carolyn.small@iowa.gov.


STUDENT ELIGIBILITY FOR STATE FINANCIAL AID FOR SPRING ENROLLMENT

March 19, 2020

We know many colleges/universities have moved to online modalities to deliver instruction on a temporary basis or for the remainder of the spring semester. We also know some colleges/universities are considering suspending classes for a temporary period of time, or condensing the spring semester. In general, if a recipient of state financial aid completes the spring credit hours for which their state financial aid was calculated, the state financial aid award will not be impacted. Other noteworthy considerations have been summarized below.

Program of study

Generally, programs of study must be eligible for Federal Student Aid to qualify for state-funded financial aid. Changes to programs of study during the spring term of enrollment must continue to meet the provisions of Federal Student Aid eligibility and align with law, regulations, and guidance provided by the Federal Department of Education.

Enrollment status

Some state financial aid programs require a student to enroll in a minimum number of credit hours to maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment (examples: Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant). Under normal circumstances, if a student drops late start spring courses (within the corresponding add/drop period) to the extent that it adjusts their enrollment level below a threshold required for continued program eligibility, that student could become ineligible for state financial aid in future terms of enrollment. Staff are currently researching and analyzing potential ways to alleviate this issue for students impacted by the Coronavirus.

Withdrawals

Some state financial aid programs require students to continuously enroll in order to maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment (examples: All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship, Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant). 

The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship requires the student to receive scholarship funds in the previous term of enrollment in order to qualify in future terms of enrollment.  Therefore, as long as a student earns a portion of the scholarship disbursement in a term of enrollment in which the student subsequently fully withdraws, that student will maintain eligibility in future terms of enrollment.

Satisfactory academic progress

Students must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements, according to the provisions of the Higher Education Act, as amended, to maintain eligibility for state financial aid.

Scholarship/grant disbursement reporting deadlines

Please keep us appraised of your ability to meet the scholarship/grant reporting deadlines published in Chapter 3 of the Iowa Student Financial Aid Guide. If you need an accommodation to an upcoming scholarship/grant reporting deadline, please let us know in writing

 

 


3.16.20

Efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 have disrupted life in many ways. If you are a college student, a college-bound student, or a college graduate paying off loans, here are some ways you might be affected. Please keep in mind that this situation is constantly changing. Refer specific questions about your course work or your financial aid to your college or university. 

If you are currently in college

Most colleges have suspended classroom instruction. If you take advantage of all available options to continue your spring coursework, your state financial aid should not be affected. However, if you do not take advantage of available options, or if you fail to meet class requirements, your financial aid might be recalculated. If you choose to withdraw for the spring semester, you will probably not receive credit for work done in courses you did not complete.

If you plan to return to college in the fall and have not filed your FAFSA for 2020-21, file it as soon as you can. As of today, deadlines for state and federal aid programs have not changed, and some programs give priority to students who file earlier.

If you plan to start college in the fall

Continue with your preparations: Submit college applications, file the FAFSA, and apply for scholarships and grants if you have not done these things already. As of today, deadlines for state and federal aid programs have not changed, and some programs give priority to students who file earlier.

Some colleges have delayed their deadlines to confirm acceptance, accept financial aid, or pay deposits. The National Association for College Admission Counseling is tracking these changes at schools all over the country. If you don't find your school listed, check in with the admissions or financial aid office.

If your financial situation has changed due to the outbreak, here is advice from Federal Student Aid: "The FAFSA form uses tax information from two years prior to the award year. If your family’s financial situation has changed dramatically since filing taxes, you should complete the FAFSA questions as required, submit the FAFSA form, then contact the school you plan to attend and discuss your situation with the financial aid office."

Whether you are a high school student or an adult learner, you should not put your college plans on hold. You can get personalized, one-on-one guidance through our Virtual College Coach.

If you are paying off federal student loans

The federal CARES Act suspends payments and interest accrual on federal student loans until September 30, 2020. Find more information here. If your income drops dramatically, you might qualify for additional deferment or forbearance.

You can find more information for students and borrowers Federal Student Aid.

More resources

Find information that can help with your college preparation and planning, from affordable internet to ACT/SAT test updates.

COVID-19 Student Resource Center 

 

 


3.19.20

The Iowa College Aid office is closed to the public until further notice. However, our operations continue.

We can be reached by phone at 877-272-4456 or 515-725-3400, or by email at Info@IowaCollegeAid.gov.

If you must meet directly with our staff, you may schedule an appointment using the phone numbers and email address above.

Please watch this website for updates.

 

 

 


1.6.20

CONTACT

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257
elizabeth.sedrel@iowa.gov

Future Ready Iowa Texting Program for Iowa students begins today

Iowa College Aid today launched the Future Ready Iowa Texting Program, which will provide support to college-bound students and new college students, as well as access to one-on-one coaches.

Students who opt in to the program will receive tips and reminders about applying for college and financial aid and about making a smooth transition from high school to college. Iowa College Aid will customize text messages based on a student’s grade level and location. For instance, high school seniors might receive a reminder that a college fair is coming up at their school.

This texting initiative particularly targets prospective and current Future Ready Iowa Last-Dollar Scholarship and Future Ready Iowa Grant recipients, but will be available to all students in Iowa.

“We’re excited to engage students through this platform,” said Karen Misjak, Executive Director of Iowa College Aid. “We know young people prefer to communicate by text, so that’s how we need to reach them.”

Students can opt in to the Future Ready Iowa Texting Program at IowaCollegeAid.gov/Texting


12.18.19

CONTACT

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257
elizabeth.sedrel@iowa.gov

Iowa College Aid names new Executive Director

The Iowa College Aid Board of Commissioners has selected Dr. Mark Wiederspan as the agency’s new Executive Director. Current Executive Director Karen Misjak will retire January 24 after 15 years at the agency and more than 30 years in the field of student financial aid.

Wiederspan, a native Iowan, joined Iowa College Aid as Executive Research Officer in June 2018 and was named Division Administrator for Research and Communications in August 2019. Before returning to Iowa, he was a faculty member at Arizona State University. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education.

Wiederspan is an Affiliated Researcher at the University of Michigan’s Education Policy Initiative, and his work has been published in academic journals including the Journal of Higher Education, National Tax Journal, and Economics of Education Review. In March, he was invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions regarding simplification of the federal student aid process.

”Ms. Misjak, through her leadership, has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to the students and families of Iowa,” said Dr. Kathleen Mulholland, Board Chair. “She truly believes in our motto, ‘Because College Changes Everything.’ We are confident that Dr. Wiederspan also embodies the values of the agency and will continue to advance our work to make college accessible and affordable to all Iowans.”

Iowa College Aid administers 12 state-funded grant, scholarship, and loan forgiveness programs, as well as federally funded GEAR UP and AmeriCorps grants to promote college access and success. The agency also coordinates the statewide school-based Course to College program, 13 community-based Local College Access Networks, and the online Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy for school counselors and other college access professionals. Wiederspan will oversee a staff of 42 full-time employees in the agency’s offices at 475 SW Fifth Street in Des Moines.

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12.18.19

CONTACT

Elizabeth Keest Sedrel
(o) 515-725-3417  (c) 515-710-1257
elizabeth.sedrel@iowa.gov

Schools will guide students from low-income districts as they transition from high school

Iowa College Aid announced today that nine colleges and universities in Iowa will receive $929,289 in GEAR UP Iowa Year 7 College Partner Grants.

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is a federal program that prepares low-income students to succeed in college. Iowa College Aid administers GEAR UP in Iowa, working with 12 school districts to provide college access services and scholarships. GEAR UP Iowa follows students from 7th grade through their first year in college. Most current GEAR UP Iowa students are in the high school class of 2020 and will enter college next fall.

Partner Grants provide resources to colleges and universities so they can support GEAR UP Iowa students as they make the transition from high school. Services will begin in June 2020 and include “summer bridge” activities for the summer between high school and college, academic and career counseling, mentoring, and family engagement. The main goal of Partner Grants is to help students persist from the first year of college to the second.

“These support services will be crucial as our GEAR UP Iowa students enter college,” said Karen Misjak, Executive Director of Iowa College Aid. “Many are the first in their family to go to college, so they’re navigating new territory. We’ve been with these students for nearly six years, and we’ll stay with them for a seventh year to be sure they make a successful start in higher education.”

Current GEAR UP Iowa students will be the first to receive support services through the first year of college; the initial GEAR UP Iowa cohort, the high school class of 2014, received services from 7th through 12th grades. The GEAR UP Iowa Year 7 partnership involves all sectors of higher education and is the largest such effort by any state GEAR UP grant in the United States. “This is sure to be a model for other programs around the nation,” Misjak said.

These institutions will receive Partner Grants:

  • University of Northern Iowa, $50,000
  • University of Iowa, $214,500
  • Iowa State University, $215,000
  • Drake University, $12,224
  • Simpson College, $11,341
  • Grand View University, $30,000
  • Indian Hills Community College, $71,500
  • Des Moines Area Community College, $212,224
  • Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, $112,500

Learn more about GEAR UP Iowa at GEARUPiowa.gov.

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