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Did you file your 2020 tax return before to March 11, 2021 AND file a FAFSA for the 2022-23 academic year AND receive unemployment benefits in 2020?

If you filed your 2020 tax return prior to March 11, 2021 and have a dependent in college (or are enrolled yourself) for the 2022-23 academic year, receipt of unemployment benefits may impact your application for federal, state, or institutional financial aid. However, there are possible adjustments that may offset this. Please contact the financial aid office at your college to learn more about increasing your financial aid eligibility.



Des Moines, Iowa
April 6, 2022

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

Successful program to continue through ARP funds

DES MOINES – Today, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced more than $5 million in American Rescue Plan to support GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready partner districts across the state of Iowa

The funding marks the launch of GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready, which builds upon the established federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Iowa program, dedicated to significantly increasing the number of students prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

The Iowa College Student Aid Commission (Iowa College Aid) administers GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and other state agencies; local school districts; postsecondary educational institutions; and community organizations, businesses, and industries.

"Through this program, we are providing school districts with the tools and resources needed to prepare high school students for transition to post-secondary education through curriculum, mentoring, and guidance,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Investing in our schools, educators and students through proven programs will help us build up our young people, strengthen the talent pipeline, and provide a high-quality workforce for businesses.”

The program will be implemented in the following 11 partner districts ­– Centerville, Clinton, Columbus Junction, Davenport, Davis County, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Saydel, South Tama, and Storm Lake. GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready will guide students in those schools from ninth grade through their first year of postsecondary education.

“We’re thankful for Governor Reynolds’ support of this critical program with a proven record of successfully preparing Iowans for postsecondary education and the workforce,” said Iowa College Aid executive director Dr. Mark Wiederspan. “This funding gives GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready the ability to reconnect with students and communities most severely impacted by the pandemic and assist those students in achieving their educational and career goals.”

GEAR UP Iowa Future Ready will utilize the funding to provide students and their families with various services to prepare them academically, financially and inspirationally to enroll and succeed in post-secondary education. In 2020, 88 percent of GEAR UP Iowa graduates had plans to complete a two-year or four-year degree program or other postsecondary training and education. GEAR UP Iowa students have also demonstrated higher rates of attendance, reading and math proficiency, increased standardized entrance exam scores, and FAFSA completion.



Tressa Schultz

Iowa College Aid announces almost $550,000 in awards

Eleven Iowa communities will receive grants to increase college attainment, Iowa College Aid announced today. The Local College Access Networks, or LCANs, will receive a total of $545,375 for 2021-22. Two are new networks, while the rest are returning grantees.

The two new networks are Brother to Brother in Des Moines and Perry LCAN. Brother to Brother will focus on college attainment for young Black men in Des Moines and Central Iowa. Perry LCAN will focus on college attainment and workforce readiness in the Perry community, especially for lower-income and minority students. 

The goal of an LCAN is to increase college access, enrollment, and completion using a framework known as “Collective Impact,” which means that each LCAN assesses the assets and 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. Iowa College Aid provides funds for an LCAN coordinator, travel, training, and other costs. Iowa College Aid staff provide technical assistance, consultation, and professional development. The LCAN grant series is a four-year model.

These LCANs received awards this cycle:

  • Year I
    • Brother to Brother (Des Moines): $49,650
    • Perry LCAN: $49,940
  • Year II
    • Quad Cities LCAN: $50,000 
  • Year III
    • Black Hawk County CAN: $50,000
    • Carroll Area CAN: $48,396
    • Latinos CAN (statewide): $59,825
    • OPT-in CAN for System Involved Youth (statewide): $49,096
    • Story County CAN: $50,915
  • Year IV
    • Aligned Impact Muscatine (AIM): $50,00
    • Dubuque CAN: $50,668
    • Mason City CAN: $36,885

“We are grateful for the funding and support from Iowa College Aid,” said Dr. Lee Chhen Stewart, Story County CAN coordinator. “We have been able to provide career speakers for sixth-graders, train 30 community members to help with financial aid applications, collaborate with high school students to create a website of college resources, and train 26 adult learners—15 of whom now have more secure, higher-paying jobs.”

Dr. Mark Wiederspan, executive director of Iowa College Aid, said the mission of LCANs has never been more important. “During the pandemic, we’ve seen dips in college enrollment and college financial aid applications,” he said. “These networks are working to recoup those losses. Many of them—including the two newest—are setting specific goals around completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. High school students who file this application are much more likely to follow through on their college plans.”

LCANs support the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowans have some education or training beyond high school by 2025. Since 2015, Iowa College Aid has awarded a total of $2,760,844 to 19 networks.

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