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ICAN Launches Major Initiative to Help Iowans Pay for Post-High School Education and Training

October 12, 2016

FAFSA Ready Iowa to Unlock Millions in Grants and Scholarships

0.0015% Chance of Winning the Lottery


85% Chance of Getting Financial Aid for College

HIAWATHA, IOWA – (October 12, 2016) – The Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) today announced a major initiative to remove financial barriers that often derail Iowans’ progress in pursuing education and training after high school.

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 unlocking millions of dollars in grants and scholarships.

“Iowa lags behind other states in FAFSA completion, says Rob Miller, president of the Iowa College Access Network.  “Iowa has a FAFSA completion rate of about 41 percent, compared to a national average of 55 percent.  That means many Iowans aren’t aware and taking advantage of the resources available to make education or training beyond high school more affordable.  With average student loan debt levels approaching $29,000 for Iowans, this is something we have to address. ”

In fact, 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.  The FAFSA Ready Iowa initiative will increase the number of Iowans filing statewide to 70 percent by 2025.

“ICAN has worked for nearly 20 years in high schools across Iowa, and with Iowa families, to help them be better prepared for college and careers” said John Davis, chairman of the ICAN board of directors. “This is our area of expertise and we can make a difference in the lives of students across Iowa on a broader scale through this initiative.”

Currently ICAN operates nine student success centers statewide and assists with the completion of more than 6,000 FAFSA forms each year.  ICAN will begin supplementing this by working with more partners and volunteers to hold community- and school-based events to encourage a better understanding of financial aid and the importance of filing the FAFSA.  Through partnerships with school districts, community-based nonprofit organizations, colleges, and businesses, ICAN will train and equip more resources to help Iowans complete this important task in paying for post-high school education or training.

Data shows that students have an 85 percent chance of being awarded financial aid by simply completing the form, yet many don’t take advantage of this free money.

 “For many families it’s a lack of awareness of the financial aid process, a lack of understanding that the form should be completed, and a lot of fear of the form itself,” stated Tracie Pavon, director of student financial assistance at Simpson College. “There is so much more students could achieve by completing the form and having a conversation about financial planning for college and career.  ICAN is uniquely positioned to make this happen in Iowa.”

 Some FAFSA Ready Iowa events have already begun for the class of 2017, with more than 60 FAFSA completion events scheduled in 42 locations across 34 cities. As the year progresses additional events will be scheduled to meet the specific needs of communities and school districts. To learn more about FAFSA Ready Iowa, visit or contact your high school counselor to help you schedule an appointment with an ICAN student success advisor. 

To request an interview with an ICAN spokesperson, please email or call (319) 423-7708.

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About ICAN

The Iowa College Access Network is a nonprofit, educational organization. ICAN is the College Access Network for Iowa, and a member of the National College Access Network (NCAN). ICAN has locations in Ankeny, Coralville, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Hiawatha, Orange City, Sioux City, and Waterloo, which provide information and support to students and their families as they plan their postsecondary education and apply for financial aid. All ICAN programs and services are provided without charge. For more information about ICAN, call (877) 272-4692 or visit


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