Happy Independence Day!

Next week, our Country will be celebrating Independence Day. Many of you will be grilling out, boating, watching/letting off fireworks, swimming and many other enjoyable summer activities. Here are a few interesting facts about the 4th of July Holiday:

1. The holiday does not celebrate the signing of the Declaration; it celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress.

2. Only two men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th 1776 -- John Hancock and Charles Thompson. The majority of signers penned their signatures on August 2, 1776.

3. Congress declared July 4th as an official holiday in 1870 as part of a bill to officially recognize other holidays, Christmas being one of them

4. The "Star Spangled Banner" was written by Francis Scott Key and was originally a poem stemming from his observations in 1814 concerning the British attack on Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. It was later put to music, though not decreed the official national anthem until 1931.

5. The average age of those who signed the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest at age 27, was Thomas Lynch, Jr of South Carolina. The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania at age 70. Thomas Jefferson was 33.

6. An estimated 150 million hot dogs will be consumed on July 4th. (Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island helps with a big chunk of that number) J

7. Our country now boasts 318.9 million citizens, but on the first Fourth of July there were only 2.5 million.

As a reminder, all ICAN office locations will be closed the 4th of July week (July 2-6) and will re-open on Monday July 9th!

We'll also be taking July off from our blog to enjoy some summer activities. I hope you and your family has a wonderful Independence Day holiday and a great summer!

Talk to you again in August!


Erick - ICAN Ankeny and Des Moines Centers

Using your local library


Recently I did a presentation at a public library and it inspired this blog. Being there made me realize how fun and useful libraries continue be for any community. At this particular library, there was section specifically for teens. There were resources for almost any topic or issue a teenager might need help with. Just to name a few: there was a book called “How Not To Choke on Tests” another called “Freshmen Survival Guide” and another called “Quiet Power: The Secret Strength of Introverts”. There were also other resources to prep for the ACT and SAT, these books cost no less than $30 at a book store, but they’re available for free from your library and many times libraries have several copies available for check out.

When I got home I looked into my own local library and discovered that they also have amazing programming for people of all ages. Just the other day they announced a work-shop series for high school students called “Adulting 101”. This consists of several work-shops with topics such as “Financial Know-How”, “Mug Meals” and “Fake News”. This got me super excited about the library so I decided to follow them on Facebook and I was pleasantly surprised to find that in my local library, you can get your driver’s license renewed (no more waiting at the DMV), you can rent baking sheets, be part of book clubs and on a weekly basis they have guest speakers on certain topics. For example, during Halloween, they had a historian talk about the Salem Witch Trials and how things really happened.

Point of my story, use your local library. They have so many interesting and useful things to offer.



Lupe - ICAN Coralville and Davenport Centers

The Importance of Volunteerism


Volunteering has long been considered a necessary and worthwhile activity in our society. Just as you probably have, I have known many people who spend/spent countless hours volunteering for many causes and in many different ways. High School students are often encouraged to volunteer in their communities, and some schools actually have a volunteer/community service requirement for their students. As a student, what are some ways volunteering could help you, beyond the obvious reasons of meeting a graduation requirement or padding your resume for scholarship and possibly college applications? (*Side note: Volunteering and community service ARE important for scholarship (and sometimes college) applications. It is rare to find a scholarship application that does not ask for this type of experience.) Here are some other benefits of volunteering:

Discover New Interests: Volunteering might help you discover an interest you didn’t know you had. Helping at a community children’s party might help you discover you enjoy working with children. Helping with BINGO at the local nursing home might help you discover you enjoy and have a knack for working with the elderly. Helping at a soup kitchen or food pantry might unlock a passion for helping those in need. Many volunteer experiences could lead to a new passion or interest for any given student.

Career Exploration:  Finding a new interest or passion could lead you into a new career path. Any of the experiences I mentioned above could become a possible career path. I have known students who have found career possibilities through volunteer experiences. These have typically been career areas the student would not have explored without discovering this interest through the volunteer experience.

Acquiring/Developing New Skills: Through volunteering, you may acquire new skills or hone skills you already had but haven’t used much. I became a volunteer piano accompanist at a young age. Through these experiences, my skills and my confidence level continued to improve, and I have never stopped volunteering as a piano accompanist. I have a former student who has been a non-stop volunteer for a very worthy cause for a children’s hospital. She has developed a great passion for this cause and has developed her leadership skills tremendously through her continued devotion to raising money for this organization. These skills will come in handy in college, career, and/or life in general.

Giving Of Our Time:  There may be no greater reward in life than unselfishly giving of our time. People who volunteer typically feel very humbled and rewarded by the time they spend serving others.  This can often become a lifelong passion. Our society needs more unselfish givers of their time, and those who volunteer typically continue to volunteer even more as their lives go on.

These are just some of the benefits of volunteering.  The next question I would typically hear if giving this information to high school students would be – Well, where can I volunteer?
You can volunteer in numerous places. Volunteer experiences could include, but are certainly not limited to: helping with a community event for the public, for children, or for senior citizens; helping with physical labor for any number of community organizations or businesses; volunteering to help at a nursing home or a church; volunteering for a soup kitchen, food bank, Red Cross, homeless shelter, animal shelter, the YMCA, a public library, youth sports leagues, or political campaigns. The possibilities for volunteering are endless, and the value of the volunteer experiences might just be “priceless!”


Mary Joan - Sioux City and Orange City Student Success Centers

Summertime: A Time to Reflect

School’s finally out and summertime is here! I think summertime is the perfect opportunity for students to spend time reflecting upon what really interests them…

For most students, summer can mean a little more freedom and possibly working a summer job. Summer is a great time for students to get involved in the local community, volunteer or take part in a job shadow or internship. All of these experiences can really help students identify what they like and dislike. Through these experiences, students learn a lot about themselves during the process. I remember doing a summer internship where I was stuck behind a desk for 8 hours straight with very little people interaction. My automatic reaction was:  “How do people do this all day?” I knew a job like that was never for me. I had to have people interaction, and I knew sitting behind a desk all day wasn’t for me! These are the types of things that are important for students to recognize early on before selecting a career or major.

At ICAN, we utilize a service called ACT Profile. ACT Profile is a free service that helps students identify majors and careers that fit them by taking an interest, abilities and values assessment. This can really help students start thinking about the next step after high school. The ACT Profile assessments can be taken as many times as the student would like. I usually recommend that students re-take this about every 6 months. As the students’ life experiences change, generally their interest, abilities and values will also change.

All of our advising appointments are free of charge to you! We would love to see you this summer. #PrepareForYourSuccess

Visit www.ICANsucceed.org/apt to schedule your visit.


Meghan - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Kibbie Grant Provides Help for Career-Focused and Career-Technical Education Programs


There is a growing demand in Iowa’s labor market for skilled workers in a variety of fields, particularly in jobs that require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year college degree. Each year specific careers will be eligible for the Kibbie Grant. The goal of the grant is to increase postsecondary access for all Iowans willing to go into these designated high-need fields. Below is the updated list for the 2018-2019 academic year.


The Kibbie Grant Program, named after former Iowa Senate President Jack Kibbie, provides need-based financial assistance to Iowa residents enrolled in high-demand career education (career-technical) and career option programs at Iowa community colleges. Grants for full-time students are designed to cover one-half of the average tuition and mandatory fees at Iowa community colleges and can be adjusted based on the student’s financial need and the amount of total funding available.

Eligibility Criteria
  • Iowa resident
  • Enrolled in at least 3 credit hours in a qualified program of study (of at least 15 weeks duration)
  • Enrolled at an Iowa community college
  • Must demonstrate financial need
Required Application

Jessica - ICAN Ankeny Center

Growing College Costs - Being Prepared for 2036 Projections


I recently read an article that talks about how much college will cost in 18 years. According to the article "In 2036, just 18 years from now, four years at a private university will be around $303,000, up from $167,000 today....To get a degree at a public university you'll need about $184,000, compared with $101,000 now" 


As a parent of a 2 year old, and another one about to arrive any day, this is scary stuff.  Stanford, MIT, and Harvard are projected to cost nearly a half a BILLION dollars!  I think about my own alma mater.  It’s been nearly 18 years since I started college.  And thinking back to what it cost at that time compared to the present day cost, I’m pretty sure it has more than doubled. 

Is this rate of college costs increasing sustainable?  What do you think?  Will college REALLY cost that much in 18 years?  Or will the higher education system implode, similar to the housing bubble?  Why hasn’t it already?  Or, are we seeing signs of that already starting to happen? 

My fellow parents, we need to get our butts in gear and start saving.  Even if we already have, it sounds like we need to save more!  I’ve opened a 529 account for my son the year he was born, but I can’t even fathom being able to save as much as it’s projected that he might need.  I’m not one to carry a defeatist attitude, but let’s hope something changes in the education landscape soon! 

Learn more about 529 plans at www.collegesavingsiowa.com.


Shea - ICAN Hiawatha Office 



Going to School This Summer? Need a Tax Transcript for Financial Aid?

If you applying for financial aid for the summer term of 2018 (which for most schools is the end of the 2017-18 academic year) or, if you are applying for financial aid for the 2018-19 academic year, you might need to provide financial aid verification documents to the institution that you are planning to attend, including a tax return transcript. Remember that 2015 is the tax year utilized for filing the 2017-18 FAFSA, and 2016 is the tax year used for 2018-19 FAFSA.

There are several ways to order tax transcripts, which are outlined here, https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-return-transcript-types-and-ways-to-order-them, but the quickest route is to set up an online account to review your tax return transcript. To register for this online service, go to the following webpage, https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript, and review the information just below Get Transcript Online:

What You Need
To register and use this service, you need:
  • Your SSN, date of birth, filing status and mailing address from latest tax return, 
  • Access to your email account, 
  • Your personal account number from a credit card, mortgage, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan, and 
  • A mobile phone with your name on the account. 
What You Get
  • All transcript types are available online 
  • View, print or download your transcript 
  • Username and password to return later 
From this webpage, https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript, select Get Transcript Online, and follow the directions to create your account. After you set up your account, make sure to remember your username and password because you’ll need them to log in. You should also have your cell phone with you, because you will get a text with a secure code that enables you to log in to your account. For Higher Education/Student Aid, you will want to select/view Return Transcript. Then, select the year that you would like to review. 


Troy - ICAN Ankeny and Des Moines Centers