ICAN sees early success for FAFSA Ready Iowa Initiative
In the first four months of its FAFSA Ready Iowa initiative, the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) has assisted in the completion of more than 3,800 FAFSA forms, kick-starting the new college financial aid season and ensuring more students are able to access financial aid assistance for their post high school endeavors. Comparatively, during the same four month timeframe one year ago, ICAN completed 756 FAFSA forms.
The initiative, FAFSA Ready Iowa, promotes increasing the number of Iowans completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – a form that is the first step in the financial aid process and a key indicator for collegiate enrollment and success.
For the first time, students were able to access the FAFSA form three months early for the upcoming academic year. Historically the form has been made available January 1. In 2016, the form was opened on October 1 for the 2017-2018 academic year. According to Rob Miller, president of the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN), an extra three months of planning provided “students and families the opportunity to look at real numbers, understand the full impact of college costs, and make informed decisions about their future.”
“Early FAFSA was a new opportunity this year, and it’s one that paid off. Families jumped on board with the concept of filing early and we’ve had a lot of early success. More than 3,800 FAFSAs were completed at ICAN centers and events during a time of year that would traditionally yield a few hundred applications,” explained Miller. “I am also especially pleased that ICAN has begun training numerous community members to serve as FAFSA resources across the state, providing even more hands-on assistance.”
Workforce studies and industry leaders agree that 70% of the workforce will need more than a high school diploma to meet employment needs by the year 2025. Many industries are already demanding these skills and the FAFSA is a way to help students remove the financial barriers and bridge the gap between the career they want and the cost of the required education or training.
Students have an 85 percent chance of being awarded financial aid by simply completing the FAFSA form. Nationally more than $2.8 billion in grants and scholarships – money that doesn’t have to be repaid - went unclaimed in the 2015-16 school year. During the same time frame, Iowans left nearly $25 million on the table by not completing the form.
For students and parents still seeking help to complete the FAFSA, ICAN operates 10 student success centers statewide and offers FAFSA completion assistance for free. To schedule an appointment, visit icansucceed.org/apt. For families not located near an ICAN Center, ICAN sponsors the FAFSA Ready Iowa program. With more than 60 events scheduled in 34 cities across Iowa, free FAFSA assistance can be found close to home for many Iowans. Visit icansucceed.org/fafsareadyia to learn about upcoming events.