For students pursuing a college degree in Iowa, there are more than 70 colleges and universities offering myriad programs. There are also a handful of solutions through student loans, scholarships, and grants specific to Iowa colleges and universities, or Iowa residents, that can help offset the upfront burden of paying for a college education.
Below are several of the financing options for Iowa college students as well as helpful information about getting the right financial aid for school.
Getting Financial Aid for College
Students, along with their parents, need to take certain steps to ensure they get the most financial aid possible when applying for college. The financial aid process often begins with completing the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid, found online.
The FAFSA gathers information about a student’s financial circumstances as well as their parents’ financial information, and factors in the total cost of attendance at a particular college or university. Once the FAFSA is submitted, student aid eligibility is determined based on the expected family contribution and the year a student is completing in school.
Financial aid from all sources, including federal student loans, grants, and some scholarships, are based on this information. This makes it crucial to complete the FAFSA by the filing deadline each fall or spring semester.
Once an idea of total aid available is provided, you can have a clear picture of what you need to cover the total cost of attendance. This may come by way of federal student loans, private or state grants, or scholarships. Evaluate all your options for college funding to ensure your degree is affordable both now and in the future.
Iowa Student Loans
Student loans are one of the most common ways to finance a college degree. For Iowa college students, loans may be either private or federal, depending on the needs of the student and the total cost of their education. Private student loans are offered by private lenders and come with more stringent qualification requirements than federal loans.
Federal student loans are available through the U.S. Department of Education after you submit a FAFSA. They come with several benefits over private student loans, including income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness, deferment, and forbearance options.
Iowa Student Loans
Both undergraduate and graduate student loans are available through Iowa Student Loans, a nonprofit organization for college students and their parents residing in the state. Iowa Student Loans offers a partnership loan that comes with a variable or fixed interest rate, an interest rate reduction for automatic payments, and the ability to add a cosigner if needed.
The private student loan option does require steady income and strong credit history, but applying with a cosigner may help the chances of approval. Iowa Student Loans are available for up to the total cost of attendance, less other financial aid received.
Premier Credit Union
Another option for private student loans for Iowa college students is through Premier Credit Union. The financial institution, headquartered in Des Moines, offers supplemental private student loans in partnership with Iowa Student Loans to both undergraduate and graduate students.
Interest rates are either variable or fixed, and an interest rate discount is available for borrowers who establish automatic payments each month. The private student loan offered through the credit union may require a cosigner as applicants must have a strong credit history and verifiable income to qualify. The total amount available depends on the cost of attendance for each student, less any other financial aid received.
Greater Iowa Credit Union
Iowa college students may also qualify for private student loans through Greater Iowa Credit Union. The financial institution, established in 1932, offers private student loans in partnership with Sallie Mae for both undergraduate and graduate-level students.
Loan options vary depending on the needs of the student but may be offered with a variable or fixed interest rate and one of three repayment options. Students may borrow up to the full cost of attendance less any other financial aid received, and a cosigner may be added to an application to strengthen the chance of approval.
Iowa College Scholarships
College scholarships are another way to help offset the total out-of-pocket expense of earning a college degree for Iowa students. Unlike student loans, college scholarships do not need to be repaid over time.
Most scholarship awards are granted to students who show exceptional skill in academics or sports, or those who have unique traits or abilities. Scholarships are highly competitive and require an application to highlight why an award should be received.
Students can find Iowa scholarships through several different outlets, including the school they plan to attend, private and nonprofit organizations or companies, or an online search for awards.
Robert D. Blue Scholarship
Available to Iowa residents, the Robert D. Blue Scholarship is an annual award named after the former governor of the state. Funds range from $500 up to $1,000 per student who has shown literary or scholastic ability along with upstanding character.
Current high school seniors or currently enrolled college students at an Iowa educational institution may apply. Students must provide two reference letters along with a 500-word essay as part of the application, due May 10 each year.
Iowa State Fair Scholarship
Officially called the Gov. Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship, this award is meant to recognize Iowa high school seniors who have been active participants in the Iowa State Fair. Ten awards of up to $5,000 each are available each year to selected seniors who plan to enroll at an Iowa college or university.
Awards are based on exhibits or performances at the state fair, financial need, and community service. Students apply through the Iowa Financial Aid Application and the FAFSA, between Oct. 1 and March 2 each year.
All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship
The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship is available to Iowa residents who age out of the state’s foster care system, those who participated in certain federal TRIO programs, graduated from alternative high schools, or who participated in the federal GEAR UP grant program.
The scholarship award for the 2018-2019 school year was $4,532 (the amount for each year is determined in the spring), and students must attend an Iowa college or university to qualify. Students must complete the Iowa Financial Aid Application along with the FAFSA by the March 1 deadline each year.
Iowa Grants for College
In addition to student loans and scholarship awards, Iowa college students may also qualify for grant funding to help offset the total cost of earning a college degree. Grants funds, unlike student loans, do not need to be repaid over time.
However, unlike scholarships, grant awards only remain without a repayment obligation when students meet certain criteria along the way. Grants are most often awarded to students who have exceptional financial need.
Iowa Tuition Grant
The Iowa Tuition Grant is available to Iowa residents who are enrolled at one of the state’s private colleges or universities and show a large financial need. Students may receive grant money up to the full cost of attendance, less any other financial aid received, depending on the funding of the grant each year.
Awards are only available to undergraduate students, and they may be offered for a full four-year degree program. Students must complete the FAFSA to determine eligibility and the amount of the award by the July 1 deadline.
Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant
Students who are Iowa residents and enrolled in a career or technical education program at an Iowa community college may receive the Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant. This grant award may be up to $900 per year for up to two years, and students must be enrolled in at least three credit hours in a qualified program.
Students must also show financial need to qualify. Eligible students may apply through the FAFSA, so long as it is submitted by the July 1 deadline.
Iowa Kibbie Grant
The Iowa Kibbie Grant is available to students enrolled at an Iowa community college in a career or technical degree program who are able to show financial need. Students may receive up to one half of the average tuition amount of the program, for up to two years.
To be eligible, students must be Iowa residents and be enrolled in at least three credit hours in a qualified program of study. Applications are submitted through the FAFSA by the deadline of July 1 each year.
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