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College and Career Transition

Posted on February 16, 2023 at 12:00 PM by Monica Clark

The transition from high school to adulthood is often not an easy one, especially for students with the least support and resources at home. Just under 60 percent of Iowa’s high school students transition to some form of postsecondary education the Fall after they graduate. The other 40 percent are going straight to work and while that can be good for some, increasingly training and education beyond high school is a requirement for earning a sustainable wage throughout your life. To help all students find their best path, Iowa’s Community Colleges launched the College and Career Transition program in 2017.

The College and Career Transition program funds counselor or coach positions in high schools statewide. These people support students in evaluating their post-high school options and navigating the often-complex systems to move forward. Many students are unaware of all of their opportunities for financial aid and the programs of study available. Many also struggle to determine the best career path for them and make informed choices about education and training paths. For the 2022-2023 school year, over 30 CCTCs will be housed in 10 of Iowa’s community colleges and will support students in nearly 60 Iowa high schools. With support from Iowa Representative Marianette Miller-Meeks, a new federal grant will potentially fund 16 new CCTC positions across the state by the summer of 2023.

This program is already demonstrating results in terms of helping more students find the best path for them. One indicator that students are fully exploring their options is whether they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application allows a student and their family to see what financial aid they will qualify for and is a pre-requisite for most aid and loans. The statewide FAFSA completion rate for 2022 was 49 percent, however, for students who receive free and reduced lunch it was 32 percent. For high schools served by the CCT program, the rate was 57 percent, a full 8 percent higher than the average. Some high schools saw even larger gains than this average, including Interstate 35 (up 21%), West Liberty (up 19%), Louisa Muscatine (up 17%), Camanche High (up 18%), and Solon (up 17%).

We are looking to build on these initial successes and better understand the program's impact by collecting more data and finding ways to expand to more schools. In addition to college funds, state funds, and federal funds, schools can also access shared operational function-weighted funding for these positions. However, many of our rural districts are already at the cap for this weighted funding. This session, we are seeking to exempt these positions from that cap in order to help rural school districts better access and sustain the program.

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