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ICAN's History


In 1998, Iowa Student Loan (ISL), a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded the College Planning Center (today ICAN), as a community outreach division. The College Planning Center division sought to educate high school students and their parents about the college-going process, specifically surrounding the financial aid process.

Planning services and programs were offered to Iowa high schools and communities without charge, allowing school counselors to bring trained college access professionals into their schools and communities to provide tailored advice to students and parents.

Growth and Expansion

In 2005, the College Planning Center began building partnerships outside the state of Iowa, becoming a member of the National College Access Network (NCAN) and learning about college access outreach from across the country and bringing the best practices back to Iowa communities.

In 2007, the College Planning Center became the Iowa College Access Network, and began focusing on services for both students and the professionals that helped them. A college access professional's newsletter was created, along with a section of the ICAN website dedicated specifically to professional development and resources for counselors and other professionals working in college access.

Becoming a 501(c)(3)

In 2008, discussion began at Iowa Student Loan surrounding the possible separation of ICAN and the formation of an independent nonprofit. The realm of student loans was changing and the Federal Family Education Loan (FELP) program was set to end.

In addition to changes in the student loan industry, the separation of ICAN from Iowa Student Loan was also encouraged as a way to increase grant and community support for college planning programs. ICAN was learning from other college access networks throughout the country and each showed a model for success involving diversified funding sources and multiple, non-biased partnerships. Becoming a separate entity would encourage new partnerships and relationships, enabling Iowa Student Loan to take a step back from ICAN as they faced a changing loan market.

The Iowa Student Loan board voted for a formal separation in 2008 and the process of developing a new board of directors began. In 2009, ICAN attained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service and began working towards complete independence from Iowa Student Loan.


ICAN is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is currently in the fourth year of its transition period from Iowa Student Loan. Through this transition period, Iowa Student Loan remains the largest supporter of ICAN's mission through both financial and in-kind donations. ISL and ICAN have agreed to a gradual reduction of support over a five year period as ICAN begins to establish itself as an independent organization and forms new relationships throughout the state. In addition to the ISL contribution, ICAN seeks funding through donations, grants, sponsorships and partnerships with individuals, businesses, schools and organizations. View current partners and donors.

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