College Success

FAFSA goes mobile

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Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

On October 1, it will be time to submit your FAFSA. Remember, you need to do this every single year that you’re attending college! Starting this year, students and parents will have two ways to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): a newly redesigned FAFSA website and a new mobile app.

The website is now compatible with any device, including desktop/laptop computers, smartphones and tablets. It also features a more modern and user-friendly look and feel. New “tool tips” provide easy-to-use contextual information. The goal of the new website design is to make filling out the FAFSA as easy as possible for students and parents.

Visit the new FAFSA website here and stay tuned for information about the mobile app. The 2019-20 FAFSA will be available on October 1. Follow Iowa College Aid on FacebookTwitter or Instagram to get reminders and tips for filling out the FAFSA.



Free publications available for 2018-19

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Iowa College Aid serves Iowa students and families by providing free resources to make college possible for all Iowans. These publications can be digitally downloaded any time, or physical copies can be mailed to you. Download them or order print copies here. Publications available are:

This all-encompassing guide offers help planning, preparing and paying for college. It includes a year-by-year checklist and a directory of Iowa schools. It is also available in Spanish.

This brochure provides a rundown of free state and federal aid available to Iowa college students.

This brochure covers the process of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Iowa Financial Aid Application (IFAA).

This brochure is a guide to student loans and repayment options, plus tips for paying off debt faster.

This brochure provides details about state and federal programs to help Iowans in high-demand jobs pay off student loans.

Check your social media presence!

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A year ago, 10 young people thought they were on their way to Harvard. Offensive memes they posted in a Facebook message group wrecked those plans—Harvard rescinded their admissions.

That example might be drastic, but your social media presence can get you into trouble when you apply for college or a job. One in three college admissions officers and nearly three-quarters of employers say they check candidates’ social media profiles.

Here’s how to make sure social media doesn’t work against you:

Pouring drinking at a partyDon’t post photos of inappropriate behavior. These might include underage drinking, semi-nudity, drug use or offensive gestures.

Don’t bad-mouth your school—or any other schools, for that matter. Keep content related to your education positive and aspirational.

Never, ever post anything that could be construed as discriminatory. Don’t even share, re-post or like this content unless you’re willing to be held accountable for it.

Don’t lie about your activities or accomplishments. Example: posting someone else’s photo and saying you took it. A reverse image search will expose you in a matter of seconds.

If you ever wonder “Should I or shouldn’t I?” about a social media post, here’s a guideline: Would you show this to your grandmother? If not, keep it offline.

7 ways an on-campus career center can help you

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Many campuses have a career center or job placement center. These offices run job boards, on-campus employment, internship programs, job fairs and professional readiness training. Their job is not only to help you gain experience and be successful while you’re in college, but also to help you succeed after you graduate.

Here are a few ways they can help you:

  1. Find a part-time job. Career centers run job boards specifically for students seeking on-campus jobs, but they also allow businesses and organizations in the community to post open positions.
  2. Find an internship. Employers frequently use on-campus career centers to fill their internship positions.
  3. Get help selecting a major/career. Career centers are staffed with academic advisers who can help you identify areas of study and jobs that interest you. Some career centers even offer for-credit courses dedicated to career and major exploration.
  4. Attend a job fair. Check with your career center to find out what job fairs and networking events they offer. Job fairs are a great opportunity to meet potential employers.
  5. Mock interviews. Practice makes perfect when it comes to interviewing for internships and full-time jobs. Careers centers have experts who will help you improve your interview skills.
  6. Resume/cover letter help. Are you wondering why you’re not getting results with your application materials? Have a pro look them over and make improvements from there.
  7. Find a full-time job after you graduate. Many employers work directly with universities to fill open positions and recruit new talent. Career centers can also reach out to organizations on your behalf to inquire about job placement.

15 must-have items for your dorm

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We’re not talking about weight. This “Freshman 15” list contains 15 must-have items if you plan to live on campus.

  1. Fan. Not all dorm rooms are air-conditioned. Even if yours comes with an AC unit, you and your roommate might not agree on the temperature, and the AC might not work fast enough on hot days or after trips to the gym.
  2. Robe and flip-flops. You might not use a robe at home, but unless you are an exhibitionist, it will come in handy when dashing from your room to a shared bathroom to take a shower. Flip-flops are a must if you don’t want to walk barefoot down the hall or stand in a shower that has been used by the masses.
  3. Power strips and adapters. There are never enough outlets for all your necessities (laptop, phone, tablet). Adapters will come in handy if your room doesn’t have three-pronged outlets.
  4. Shower caddy. If you have to share a bathroom, a shower caddy helps you haul your shampoo, conditioner, soap, shaving supplies and toothbrush back and forth.
  5. Umbrella. You will need one unless you want to drip-dry while sitting in class.
  6. Snow boots. Frostbite is not fun. Snow boots are not optional in Iowa.
  7. Tool kit. It’s extremely useful when putting together boxed furniture or fixing minor problems in your room.
  8. Dry erase board. Hang one on your door for your roommates and hall mates to leave messages when you are out.
  9. Water bottle and travel mug. Face it now: College students are broke. You can save money and the environment by carrying your own water or making your own coffee.
  10. Lamp. You’ll appreciate the extra light during late night cram sessions or when a crowded room forces you to get ready at your desk.
  11. Door stop. Prop your door open when moving, for ventilation or to get to know other students in the hall. Who is brave enough to knock on a closed door just to say “Hello”?
  12. Sewing kit. Your parents aren’t going to be there to sew a button on your shirt.
  13. First aid kit and health insurance card. Headaches and college students go together like macaroni and cheese. Keep aspirin and other pain relievers on hand, along with bandages and disinfectant. If you need a doctor, you’ll also need your health insurance card.
  14. Drying rack. Dormitory dryers aren’t always reliable, or available.
  15. Fabric freshener. Tiny room, mounds of dirty clothes, bed sheets that haven’t been washed in a while—yes, this is necessary.

Finding the right college for you

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No single college is right for everyone. To make your decision, consider “college fit”: how well a school meets your academic, financial and social needs. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Academic needs:

  • GPA and test scores required
  • Programs and majors offered

Financial needs:

  • Cost and debt
  • Graduation rates
  • Job placement rates
  • Graduates’ average salaries

Social needs:

  • Size and location
  • Diversity
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • Housing options

Research schools and rank them by college fit. Once you narrow down your list, you can approach college applications with a clear focus. Find more information here.

Six campus resources you should explore

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Everyone handles the transition from high school to college differently. But whether you’re a first-generation student or a legacy, traveling to another state or living at home, remember that you’re surrounded by people who want to help you succeed. Explore these resources on campus and ask for help when you need it:

  • Health center: Scope this out (location, hours, fees) before you need it. You don’t want to stress over these details while you’re feeling crummy.
  • Library: Digitized collections with search engines are far more reliable than Google. Plus, librarians are trained to help you track down the information you need.
  • Tutoring or writing center: Student employees are trained to assist their peers. These centers might offer one-on-one or group assistance.
  • Fitness center: Your campus activity fee might already cover your membership, so work up a sweat.
  • Counseling center: Student life—and life in general—can be stressful. You don’t have to muddle through alone.
  • Job placement center: This is a great place to start your career search later or to look now for part-time jobs or occasional weekend work.