The Iowa Department of Education’s Bureau of Iowa College Aid and the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) are co-hosting the third-annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Awareness Week this week to mark the opening of the much anticipated Better FAFSA and the start of FAFSA completion season. A series of events are being held throughout the week to help students, families and educators prepare for and complete the FAFSA.

The FAFSA traditionally opens in October, but was delayed until late December to accommodate the implementation of a simplified Better FAFSA form. The new application expands access to federal student aid and simplifies the process; applicants can answer as few as 18 questions to receive aid.

The week’s events begin this evening (Jan. 16), with a session focusing on FSA ID creation and preparing for the FAFSA. The FSA ID is necessary to file the FAFSA and helps students and families manage their federal student aid. The virtual walkthrough, starting at 5:30 p.m., will feature Iowa College Aid’s college coaches helping students and families create their FSA ID and assemble any information and documentation they may need to quickly and effortlessly file the FAFSA. The live event will also feature the opportunity to ask questions of the college coaches and receive one-on-one assistance. Register for the FSA ID event.

In addition to virtual webinars, Bureau of Iowa College Aid staff are also facilitating a dozen events at schools across the state to help students and families in those communities access millions of dollars in federal and state financial aid to pursue postsecondary education.

ICAN staff are leading a FAFSA Step-by-Step event Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. The virtual event, which you can register for here, includes an ICAN professional guiding students and families through every part of the FAFSA, answering any specific questions, and providing assistance as needed.

Thursday morning, Bureau of Iowa College Aid staff will present FAFSA resources for high school counselors, college and career transition counselors, and educators on FAFSA completion strategies and how to access the Department’s FAFSA resources. Staff will also discuss summer transition associates and how they support the final steps of the college-going process in their communities. If you are not already a part of the Bureau of Iowa College Aid’s Course to College weekly network calls and wish to participate, contact Danielle Sampson.

Students and families are encouraged to sign up for the Bureau of Iowa College Aid’s Virtual Coach texting service throughout the week. Virtual Coaches provide individualized FAFSA and college-going assistance for students and parents in grades 9-12. Coaches are also available for virtual, one-on-one FAFSA appointments.


In addition to these virtual statewide events, multiple school-based FAFSA events are taking place this week. Tuesday evening, Columbus Community High School (Columbus Community School District) and Crestwood High School (Howard-Winneshiek Community School District) are hosting FAFSA completion events for the general public to assist students and families.

Six high schools are staging FAFSA completion events Wednesday, Jan. 17, with events at Griswold Jr.-Sr. High School, Ottumwa High School, Lisbon High School, Storm Lake High School, Bedford High School and Calamus-Wheatland High School.

Four more school-based events are scheduled for Thursday at Iowa City West High School, South Tama County High School, Colfax-Mingo Jr./Sr. High School and Greene County High School.

Learn more about filing the FAFSA on the Financial Aid section of the Department’s website at File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) | Department of Education (