The 2020 ICR Future Career & College Fair is Going Virtual this Sunday, May 31 from 1-3 pm

More than 70 exhibitors have already registered for the 2020 ICR Future Career & College Fair on Sunday, May 31st from 1-3 pm. This event offers high school students the opportunity to connect online with representatives from College & Universities, Apprenticeships & Building Trades, Military Service Branches, Business & Industry Career Clusters, and Student Services Organizations. New exhibitors are signing up every day, click here for an up-to-date list: .

It only takes a minute for students to register to participate in the fair. Registration is free and gets you access to the fair site and additional resources - to register visit

Students, please make sure to take a few seconds to select the alerts that you’d like to receive at the bottom of the registration page. The ICAN Tip of the Week, ICAN E-Alerts by Grade Level, and the SP3 Parent Reminder Service are all great tools for career and college planning.

In addition, students can take a quick, fun, student-focused career assessment prior to attending, or while they are online during the fair. The assessment is a great tool to help students identify potential careers, which can usually be divided into 6 career clusters:

· Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
· Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics
· Business, Finance, Marketing, & Management
· Health Sciences
· Human Services
· Information Systems

To get started with your assessment click here.

The fair also includes links to informative videos covering important career & college planning topics, including the ICR Future Community Career Outlook, Earning College Credit in High School, and Understanding Financial Aid.

Make a point to spend some time Sunday planning your future at the 2020 ICR Future Career & College Fair this Sunday, May 31st from 1-3 pm. It's going to be a great afternoon!

Troy - ICAN Ankeny and Des Moines Centers

Understanding Student Loans and How to Cover College Costs

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to pay for college. By now, most of you high school seniors should have received your Financial Aid Packages. If you have any questions over those, we are happy to help go over them with you. Whether you have general questions over the phone, or if you’d like to schedule a virtual appointment using Zoom so we can take a look at your actual award, we’re happy to help address your questions.

In particular, there have been a lot of questions regarding student loans. Which loans should you accept? Which loans should you steer clear of? Here is a general recommended order of borrowing that we suggest.

First of all, if you are eligible for any Subsidized Stafford Loans, these are typically your best option. They offer a low fixed interest rate determined by the federal government. They are borrowed in the student’s name and do not require a co-signer. Interest does not accrue on these loans until you are done with school, and payments are not required until six months after you’re done with school.

After you’ve exhausted your Subsidized loan eligibility, we would recommend turning to any of the Unsubsidized Stafford Loans. They are basically the same as the Subsidized loans, the only primary difference being that interest does accrue on these loans while you’re in college. You can choose to pay on the interest while you’re in school if you’d like, but it is not required.

After you’ve exhausted your Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, we typically recommend you look into borrowing from a Private lender. You can, and should, check with whoever you do your local banking with to see what they have to offer. You may also check online for different lenders. One option that we tell families about is Iowa Student Loan. They are located in Des Moines, and currently offer an interest rate range from 4.35-6.85%. There is a lot more information on their website, so check them out:

And lastly, the PLUS loan is an option for many parents who wish to borrow on their student’s behalf. We don’t typically recommend this option because it has origination fees over 4.2% and for the 2019-2020 school year, money was borrowed at 7.08% in parents’ names. If we go back and look at the previous option of Iowa Student Loan, even if you qualified for the worst interest rate advertised, you would get a 6.85% rate with no origination fees.

Hopefully this information gives you a general idea of a recommended order of borrowing. There are always unique scenarios that may occur that might change things. Feel free to check out our website where you can read more about student loans.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Even with the pandemic, we are operating business from home quite well utilizing different technology. We are able to answer the phones M-Th, 8:00-4:30 and help with virtual appointments using Zoom. So give us a call at 877-272-4692 or visit to schedule an appointment.

Shea - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Dear Class of 2020

I know this isn’t how you thought the spring semester of your senior year was going to go. I know that, like a lot of us, you thought we’d be “back to normal” after spring break. The world as we know it has changed…once again. You were likely born while we were still grieving 9/11. You probably started school in 2007, 1 yr. before the housing market crash of 2008. And now, COVID-19 has impacted the world in a way we never imagined.

Please know this, you are resilient and however you feel right now, it’s valid. If you’re angry, scared, sad, frustrated, bored etc. it’s ok. Everything that is happening right now is very surreal and you are allowed to feel however you want. You didn’t get to go to prom, you didn’t get to participate in spring sports/activities, and you’re not getting a traditional graduation; you deserved better. 

Nonetheless, we are all very proud of how far you’ve come. Even though things are crazy you should also take a moment to realize that you are also blessed. If you’re alive, healthy, have food, a home, a family, you are blessed. You will go on to do great things, you are resilient and you are not alone. 

From everyone at ICAN, congratulations class of 2020. We see you.

How to Write a Thank You Note

Scholarship season is almost over and many students are eagerly waiting to hear if their application was selected to be awarded. If you’re a student who has worked hard throughout high school, is academically strong and has been involved outside the classroom, it’s very likely that you’ll get awarded for it. When you do, you should consider writing a thank you note to the scholarship committee who believes in you and your future endeavors.

When you write a thank you note, start off by addressing the entire committee or the person who is awarding the scholarship. A simple and direct opening is a great start. Next you should express your gratitude and add details on how you plan to use the funds that were awarded. Follow this by writing a forwarding statement; tell the committee what you’re looking forward to in your academic career. Then, thank the committee again and end it with your regards.

I recommend you write the note on a piece of paper first or a Word document. Edit it, check spelling and make it perfect. Then write it by hand (make sure it’s legible) using blue/black ink on a nice and professional Thank You note card.

The scholarship committee will be delighted to receive this note and will be relieved to know that their resources are being put to good use by a grateful young person. Good Luck.

Lupe - ICAN Coralville and Davenport Centers

Paying for College - How to Evaluate Total Cost with College Funding Forecaster

As college financial aid packages are rolling in, Senior students and parents are analyzing not only the best academic fit but the best financial fit as well. One financial aid tool that I recommend using is the College Funding Forecaster from Iowa Student Loan.

The College Funding Forecaster will help you and your family estimate your total college expenses — and make a preliminary plan for paying them — based on your financial aid package. The tool also allows you to do comparisons among all colleges you are considering. This interactive resource helps you make more informed decisions about higher education by estimating your total out-of-pocket expense for a college degree.

Here is a quick rundown of how the forecaster works. Gather your financial aid offers from the colleges and enter the annual cost of attendance such as tuition, room and board, and books and supplies focusing on one college at a time. The next screen will allow you to enter in gift aid such as grants and scholarships from the college as well as any other scholarships you won from your high school or local community. Next, list anticipated aid from family members and your own contributions including cash payment arrangements or 529 plan dispersements. Lastly, enter the federal loan amount listed on your offer.

Now the forecaster will calculate the funding gap, if any, for four years by listing the cost of attendance minus the proposed aid and contributions. I like to print this page and refer to it as the “preliminary plan”. Now we can play with aid and cost amounts. In my opinion the best feature of the forecasting tool is the ability to edit the amounts and types of the aid. For example, let’s say you get a nice surprise by winning another scholarship. You can edit the scholarship section by adding the amount. Then this will automatically change your funding gap. Perhaps then the forecaster shows you have funds exceeding the cost of attendance and now you can decrease the loan amount to borrow only what you need. Remember, you can also go back and alter the indirect costs such as books for a lower cost of attendance. Think about lowering book costs by purchasing used books or consider renting your text books. Repeat the process with each college and print out the final results. Now you can compare the offers side by side to attain the best financial fit for your family.

If you need help or want to visit with an ICAN Advisor about utilizing the College Funding Forecaster, please call 877-272-4692 or book a virtual appointment at

Jessica - ICAN Ankeny Center

Happy Mother's Day

Mother’s Day has a long history behind it. If you wanted to do some research, you’d find its roots can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The official Mother’s Day in the U.S. is credited to Anna Jarvis, although other women are also mentioned when researching the beginnings of this special day. Anna saw Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children, inspired by the death of her own mother. She organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in 1908, and in 1914, she finally convinced then President, Woodrow Wilson, to make Mother’s Day the 2nd Sunday in May. Interestingly, as Mother’s Day became more and more commercialized, Anna Jarvis became very frustrated, and by the time she died in 1948, she had disowned the holiday completely and had lobbied the government to get it removed from the American calendar.

Apparently she did not succeed in her lobbying. Mother’s Day is still celebrated the 2nd Sunday in May. Because of that, it’s never the exact same date, year to year, on the calendar. The earliest Mother’s Day could be is May 8; the latest it could be is May 14. This can make it a little more difficult to keep track of, kind of like Thanksgiving. But nowadays, there are plenty of advertisements on various media sources to remind us not to forget our mothers on this 2nd Sunday in May.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? As a daughter, I try to make sure I send my mom a card in the mail, and I usually have flowers delivered to her or send her some other type of gift, such as a gift card, jewelry, or maybe fragrant cologne or lotion. I also try to call her on Mother’s Day, since we live about 180 miles from each other. As a mom, my boys (all adults) are usually very good about texting me and wishing me a “Happy Mother’s Day!” They often take me out for lunch and sometimes take me out to – my favorite - a movie (and they let ME choose)! As a mom, I can tell you that for me anyway, it’s not WHAT they do or WHAT they may give me that matters most. It’s just the fact that they remember me on that special day.

So what can you do for your mom on this special day of recognition? If you don’t live with your mom, go see her if it’s possible. If that’s not possible or if we are still practicing social distancing this Mother’s Day, be sure to call her. Tell her you love her. If you can, send her a card or a small gift. If you do live with your mom, there are many ways to let her know you care. If there is a particular chore you know she dislikes, do that chore for her – without being asked, and do it well! If you know she likes a certain dessert or meal – make that for her! If she loves flowers and you can afford to send her or give her something, do it! A single rose or a small bouquet of carnations or inexpensive flowers could mean so much to any mother. Write her a note (or poem if you have that talent) telling her how much she means to you. Mention some of your best family memories in the note. I guarantee that will be something she keeps forever. Make her a homemade card, use sidewalk chalk to honor her on the front sidewalk or driveway, or watch your younger siblings for awhile so she can go outside and read or take a walk. Just brainstorm various ideas you can do for your mom and choose something (or a couple of things) you know she would appreciate. If your mom isn’t around anymore for any reason, perhaps there is a woman who has been a mother-type figure to you. Let her know on this special day how much she means to you. If you do this, she will be so appreciative and will never forget it!

Mother’s Day will be here soon! Plan ahead and make sure to do something to honor the woman who does more for you and your family than you will probably ever realize, at least not until you have children yourself one day. Happy Mother’s Day to any moms reading this! To everyone else – have fun doing something special for the Mom or the Mom-figure in your life on this important day!

Mary Joan - ICAN Northwest Iowa Centers

Zoom Was A 70’s TV Show For Kids – Now It’s A Way To Stay Connected Online

Until recently, when I heard the word “Zoom,” I immediately thought of the 70’s TV show for kids with the catchy intro song. Remember the lyrics?

Just last month, I utilized Zoom for the first time for online meetings. I’m still learning new things about Zoom, but it’s fun and fairly easy to use.

At ICAN we have moved all of our services to the virtual format to ensure safety while we continue to serve students. You can schedule virtual appointments with ICAN, via Zoom at Make sure you enter an active e-mail address when you schedule your appointment, because you will receive your Zoom meeting invitation via e-mail. A few minutes before your appointment begins, check your e-mail account on a computer, not your phone. The reason for using a computer is because you will be asked to share your computer screen during the appointment. From your e-mail account, click your Zoom appointment link, and you’ll be “zooming” in no time!

If you have any challenges connecting with your ICAN Student Success Advisor, please contact your advisor directly by visiting or call ICAN’s toll-free phone number at 877-272-4692.

Thank you, and take care!

Troy - ICAN Ankeny and Des Moines Centers