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Hot Tips for the college bound and their parents.

Plan - Apply - Pay - Succeed

How Students can Help Pay for College

Funding a college education can be a challenge for many families, but when students take an active role in contributing toward the cost, they can help ease the burden. The Iowa College Access Network has five tips to help students make college more affordable.

  1. Apply for scholarships. Avoid paying for scholarship search services. Scholarship listings are available free through high school counseling offices, at college financial aid offices or on .
  2. Earn college credit through coursework or testing programs. Many colleges grant credit for performance in high school Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams. This can save students thousands of dollars by enabling them to accelerate their degree. Similarly, many colleges offer the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), which allows students to demonstrate achievement and test out of prerequisite courses.
  3. Find out how to qualify for education discounts, scholarships or loan forgiveness. In exchange for public service work in AmeriCorps or Peace Corps, volunteers are provided with educational awards or partial cancellation of federal student loan debt. Joining the military can provide education funding benefits. There are also federal, state and private programs that offer loan cancellation or forgiveness to eligible students in certain fields.
  4. Get a job. Students can help defray college costs by contributing toward tuition and living expenses. They can get a job (such as a work-study position on campus), find an internship or participate in a co-op program, which is a short-term work assignment that can provide a paycheck, work experience and in some cases, permanent employment.
  5. Decrease college expenses. Students can save by living with parents or attending a community college for a year or two before transferring to a four-year college.

 College Planning Centers / Iowa Collge Access Network (ICAN)

The ICAN College Planning Centers provide free information and support to students and their families as they plan their postsecondary education and apply for financial aid. The centers are located in Cedar Rapids at 1100 Blairs Ferry Road N.E., Suite 104, and in West Des Moines at 160 S. 68th Street, Suite 1101. Both are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call (877) 272-4692 or visit


Quick Facts on the Financial Aid Process (from ICAN)

What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is funding intended to help students pay expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies for education at a public or private postsecondary institution. Financial aid is available to fill the gap between college costs and what the family can contribute. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, work-study and student loans. Some types of financial aid are based on merit, talents or special abilities, while others are based on financial need.

The Financial Aid Steps

Below is a list of the three main steps involved in applying for financial aid.

  • Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
    • Students and parents need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for federal aid and many types of state and institutional aid. The FAFSA should be submitted as soon as possible after Jan. 1 (or before a college's priority deadline). The FAFSA can be completed online at A paper FAFSA is available upon request by calling (800) 4FED-AID/ (800)- 433-3243.
    • A Federal Student Aid Personal Identification Number (PIN) can make the financial aid process quicker by allowing applicants to electronically sign the FAFSA. A PIN also makes it possible to make changes and check the status of the FAFSA online, and can be used to electronically sign federal loan applications. Students and parents must each get a separate PIN, as it is an electronic signature for the individual and can't be shared. To request a PIN, go to
  • Receive the SAR (Student Aid Report)
    • The SAR (Student Aid Report) is sent to financial aid applicants and colleges/universities within about two to four weeks after the FAFSA is submitted. The SAR is a summary of all the information submitted on the FAFSA, and is sent electronically to the colleges or universities listed on the form. The SAR identifies the EFC (Expected Family Contribution), which the college or university uses to determine financial aid eligibility. Students and parents must review the SAR carefully to make sure the information is correct.
  • Review the Award Letter
    • An award letter will be sent to students from each school where he/she applies. It will explain the various types of financial aid available to the student at that institution. Students and parents should review the award letter thoroughly to understand each type of aid offered. Read instructions carefully, as it may be necessary to sign and return portions of the form by a certain deadline to accept all or part of the aid offered.

Get Free, Professional Help Completing your FAFSA

ICAN outreach representatives can help students and parents complete and file the FAFSA electronically at the ICAN College Planning Centers in Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines. All ICAN services are free. The centers are located in Cedar Rapids at 1100 Blairs Ferry Road N.E., Suite 104, and in West Des Moines at 160 S. 68th Street, Suite 1101. Both are open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. As an added convenience, ICAN will host a Customer Assistance Day on Saturday, Feb. 9. Call (877) 272-4692 to schedule an appointment. For more information about ICAN, visit
Visit for a list of FAFSA deadlines at Iowa colleges.
Complete your income tax returns as soon as possible. If necessary to meet college deadlines, you may use estimated tax information on the FAFSA. Remember to make copies of your complegted FAFSA and tax returns for your records. If you need FAFSA assistance, all ICAN services are free. Call between Mon-Fri, 8a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Seniors interested in local scholarships should be visiting my office during their study halls or before and after school. There is no excuse for not being aware of or applying for scholarships tha they fit the criteria.

Volunteering in your community is rewarding as well as beneficial when it comes time to register for scholarship money. Try it!


It's not too early to start thinking about tuition and other college costs. Are you preparing financially for college at this point through a job? If not-start. College can be affordable but you need to begin a search now and update it as you move through your secondary career. Use your Christmas holiday to develop a reading list and update your activity resume. Doing this now increases your comprehension and eliminates stress when you have to produce a resume for your four years of hgih school.


Get into the habit of reading in your free time and developing a strong vocabulary. These two practices are important on college entrance exams. Talk with your parents about your academic and career plans. If you don't have any, begin a search on /IowaChoices and famaliarize yourself with degreed programs, average cost of college tuition, and an exploration of college costs throughout our nation. The more you get to know, the easier it becomes. Get serious about your future while you are enjoying your high school years. It's allowed!!!

Here Goes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our college planning hot tips are rolling in and it's my privilege to inform the parents and college bound students of HTC regarding these tips.


Please sign up with Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) @ (877)272-4692 for a free senior reminder service. Their mission is to help individuals attain their educational and career goals by providing free information and support as you plan your postsecondary education and apply for financial aid. Several of the tips on this webpage you have already been acquainted with during our senior meetings; however, it is helpful to be exposed more than once to information.

What you should be thinking on and doing this month:

  • Gather information and research the colleges you may be interested in attending through my office. Here you will find information from the admission offices and their websites. Also, ICAN's website provides links to all Iowa college home pages. Update your student folder that I provided by keeping track of correspondence you may now be receiving from colleges. Most importantly, take note of admission and financial aid deadlinesof each institution you have contacted.
  • Again, I want to remind the parents and students to be very aware of scholarship search and financial aid service organizations that charge a fee for service. You can easily search for FREE on ICAN's Web site.
  • Continue using the Book of Majors, Scholarship Handbook, and The Chronicle Four Year College Databook located in my office. These four books have actually assisted some seniors in changing their educational and career goals by answering questions regarding prior choices. Please utilize these fine resources. Remember, your education is your responsibility.
  • Many of you have already taken the October ACT but did not commit to taking the writing component. I strongly urge to take this next time you register. Much can be accomplished through this, such as using the score to determine your strong points and shortcomings in writing.
  • Remember to use your two excused college days wisely. They have been incorporated into your school year to give you the opportunity to explore choices.
  • Attend college fairs such as the one I promoted in September, The Golden Circle College Fair. These fairs send reps who are eager to assist you and most of all you and your parents can attend more than one presentation in a day.
  • Don't forget to view the scholarship website as I update it four times in three quarters. The most recent update will take place on November 2nd.
  • You are always welcome to peruse the scholarship file caddy in my office. Just let me know when you would like to visit.
  • Scholarship possibilities are boundless at libraries. Check them out as well.
  • If you are not pleased with your ACT score, take it again. Just make sure you check the registration deadlines on my bulletin board. Remember raising scores means more money offered in award letters.
  • Begin to narrow your college choices and complete admission applications. Those admission deadlines and application requirements tend to sneak up on students who procrastinate causing them to lose their first college choice or valuable scholarship dollars.
  • As of today, I have only sent transcripts and ACT scores to colleges for 10 students.
  • Most importantly, you should have your senior portfolio sheet completed, made copies and distributed them to faculty/employers whom you wish to have letters of recommendation from. THIS IS A MUST!
  • When you visit a college campus don't forget your list of campus visit questions I 've given you. You will gain information and impress your college admission's officer at the same time.


  • Keep your grades up! Colleges look at your overall GPA through all four years of high school.
  • If you are considering one of Iowa's public universities you must become familiar with the new Regent Admission Index Requirements. Call the Admission Office of the respective university or college for more information.
  • Begin a college savings plan; start saving money.
  • Juniors are not allowed two college Days as seniors are.
  • Question the seniors about their plans for college. They love to talk about their successes.
  • Begin to gather information for a portfolio in your junior year regarding colleges/universities your're interested in. Please stop by my office and take a short tour of what will be available to you next year.
  • Visit college websites through
  • Here are some terms to acquaint you with what is important in choosing a college: size, type, location, programs, facilities,cost, and academic quality.
  • Check out Iowa Workforce Development's Occupation Charts to begin thinking about a career. The information is vast and is a starting point for determining next year's pathway for a college or university. You can find these charts right outside my office door on the wall.


  • Get involved! Find an activity in school or your community that you enjoy and be active.
  • Remember grades do matter and colleges/universities look at the whole student and his/her four years of high school through GPA.
  • Know yourself and think about what you like to do, what you are good at and what you value most. The first step in career planning is self-discovery.Visit the Iowa Choices portal at Choices to help you determine your interests and values.
  • Within the Choices Planner you can explore college and career options related to your interests. Collect and add these items to a personal portfolio that you can grow yearly.
  • Talk with the seniors about their journey this year. It's amazing what you can learn from a peer.


  • Begin to think about a variety of classes to take during highschool when electives become available to you.
  • Start developing a resume and portfolio concerning your extracurricular activites as you begin freshmen year. Don't wait till senior year to develop this; you will have forgotten some of what you have accomplished.
  • Prepare for college level courses by attending to your core curriculum now. Don't waste the knowledge and understanding you receive in class.
  • Remember, it's never too late to begin a self-discovery in career planning and talking with your parents about the best way to prepare for a college education.