If you were to paint a quintessential portrait of what the Midwest is all about, you would probably be painting a picture of Iowa.

The Hawkeye State’s greatest resource is its rich soil, making it America’s top producer of corn and one of the top producers of soybeans. Therefore, there are plenty of farms and fields nestled in the state’s rolling hills and prairie-like landscape.

Do not be fooled though:  Iowa is home to some prestigious colleges and universities. In turn, the state is home to some unique college financial aid programs as well. These programs include the Iowa Tuition Grant, Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship, All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship, the Iowa State Fair Scholarship and the Robert D. Blue Scholarship.

Iowa Tuition Grant

The Iowa Tuition Grant was created to assist Iowa students attending private Iowa colleges and universities in affording to receive a higher education.

To be eligible for the grant, a student must:

  • Be an Iowa resident,
  • Be an undergraduate student enrolled in an associate or bachelor’s degree program,
  • Be enrolled at an eligible Iowa private college or university,
  • Complete and file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by July 1, and
  • Have an eligible estimated family contribution according to FAFSA.

To apply for the grant, a student simply needs to file their FAFSA by July 1.

To renew the grant for additional academic years, a student needs to make sure to continue to file FAFSA by that date every year. A student can receive the grant for up to four full years of full-time, undergraduate study.

The maximum amount the grant can be is set at the average Regent tuition and fee rate, so this amount can change annually. Part-time students can be eligible for an adjusted grant amount as well.

Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship

The Iowa National Guard Service Scholarship provides academic funding to Iowa National Guard members attending eligible Iowa colleges; the Iowa Adjutant General determines eligibility criteria for the award.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be an Iowa resident,
  • Be an Iowa Army or Air National Guard unit member for each term the student receives the scholarship,
  • Satisfactorily complete required National Guard training,
  • Maintain satisfactory performance of National Guard duty,
  • Pursue a certificate or first-time undergraduate degree at an eligible Iowa college or university,
  • Complete and file FAFSA annually,
  • Complete and file the Iowa Financial Aid Application (IFAA) annually, and
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by the school.

If a student has already completed 120 semester credit hours or more, they are ineligible for the scholarship.

To apply for the scholarship, a student must simply submit FAFSA and IFAA by July 1 every year.

The maximum scholarship award cannot exceed the maximum Iowa resident tuition rate at Iowa Regent colleges and universities. Due to this fact, the award amount can vary annually. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the award amount topped out at $9,274.

All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship

The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship (AIOS) is a state-funded award to help Iowa students attend in-state colleges and universities.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be an Iowa resident;
  • Attend or plan to attend an eligible Iowa college or university;
  • Have graduated (or are about to graduate) from an eligible Iowa high school or have received a GED within the last two years;
  • Be a first-time freshman in the upcoming fall or spring college semester (unless the student is renewing their award);
  • Be continuously enrolled in college and continue to receive a scholarship disbursement each semester;
  • Enroll in at least three semester credit hours (or the trimester or quarter equivalents) in a program leading to an undergraduate degree, diploma or certificate;
  • Complete and file FAFSA and IFAA by March 1; and
  • Have an eligible estimated family contribution according to FAFSA (the 2021-2022 academic year range was $0 to $9,543).

Typically, all high school seniors that are about to graduate and all recent high school graduates are eligible for the scholarship if they meet the criteria, but priority for the scholarship is given to Iowa students who:

  • Age out of Iowa’s foster care system and/or state training school,
  • Are adopted from Iowa’s foster care system after age 16,
  • Are children of deceased public safety workers (peace officers, police officers, firefighters, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, correctional officers, etc.),
  • Participated in certain federal TRIO programs in high school (Upward Bound, Talent Search, Educational Opportunity Center, etc.),
  • Graduated from an alternative high school (or program), or
  • Participated in a federal GEAR UP program in Iowa.

To initially apply for the scholarship, a student simply needs to file FAFSA and IFAA. If a student is applying for renewal of the award, they just need to file FAFSA.

The scholarship can be renewed for up to eight full-time semesters or 16 part-time semesters as long as a student:

  • Is continuously enrolled in college and continuously receives a scholarship disbursement each semester,
  • Has an eligible estimated family contribution according to FAFSA each academic year, and
  • Completes and files FAFSA by March 1 prior to each academic year.

The scholarship’s award amount varies annually, though the maximum award for the 2021-2022 academic year was $4,772.

Governor Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship

The Governor Terry E. Branstad Iowa State Fair Scholarship was created to assist outstanding college-bound Iowa high school seniors who actively participate in the state fair when it comes to affording their first year of college tuition.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be an Iowa high school senior that will be graduating from an Iowa high school at the end of the current academic year,
  • Actively participate in the Iowa State Fair (in the past or currently),
  • Plan to enroll in an Iowa college or university,
  • Complete and file FAFSA and IFAA by March 1, and
  • Complete and submit the Iowa State Fair Scholarship application and all its supporting documents by March 1.

A selection committee picks the recipients based on the following details:

  • 20% on the student’s exhibits, performances and/or participation in the Iowa State Fair;
  • 20% on the student’s financial need for funding;
  • 15% on the student’s essay explaining the impact the Iowa State Fair has had on their life;
  • 15% on the student’s extracurricular and community activities;
  • 15% on the student’s community service and/or volunteerism;
  • 10% on the student’s high school GPA.

The scholarship can only be used for the student’s first year of college. Up to ten awards are handed out during a single academic year. The scholarship can be for up to $5,000, though it will never be more than the student’s established financial need.

Robert D. Blue Scholarship

The Robert D. Blue Scholarship is an award named after the state’s former governor given to Iowa students who demonstrate literary ability, scholastic ability, truthfulness, trustworthiness, courage, fellowship and other high-quality character traits.

To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must:

  • Be an Iowa resident,
  • Be a current college-bound Iowa high school senior or current Iowa college student,
  • Plan to attend or currently be attending an Iowa college or university, and
  • Complete and submit the Robert D. Blue Scholarship application by May 10.

The student’s application must include their high school GPA, details on their financial need for funding, two reference letters, and a 500-word essay.

The scholarship award amount ranges from $500 to $1,000.

Major Iowa Colleges and Universities

Believe it or not, some of the Midwest’s most popular public colleges and universities can be found within Iowa’s 55,857 sq. miles of borders. Iowa is also home to other great public and private colleges and universities such as:

  • Briar Cliff University in Sioux City (private),
  • Central College in Pella (private),
  • Cornell College in Mt. Vernon (private),
  • Dordt University in Sioux Center (private),
  • Drake University in Des Moines (private),
  • Iowa State University in Ames (public),
  • Ambrose University in Davenport (private),
  • University of Dubuque in Dubuque (private),
  • University of Iowa in Iowa City (public),
  • University of Northern Iowa (public), and
  • Upper Iowa University (private) in Fayette.

While Iowa may be known for its rich soil and the crops it produces, it is good to know the state’s residents have ample opportunities to receive financial aid to help them afford to attend in-state colleges to receive a higher education.