Understanding Student Loans

Every eligible student who files the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will have access to Federal Direct Stafford Loans. This is a loan program offered through the Department of Education. Students can take out this loan in their own name, without having a parent co-signer. There is a maximum amount that students can borrow in Direct Stafford Loans that varies depending on the student’s year in school. First-year students can borrow up to $5,500, sophomores up to $6,500, and juniors and seniors up to $7,500. These are ten-year loans that the student would start making payments on six months after they graduate or stop taking classes at least half time.

There are two types of Direct Stafford Loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. For a subsidized Direct Stafford Loan, the government pays the interest while the student is in school. For the unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan, the student would be responsible for paying that interest during their time as a student. Not every student will qualify for a subsidized loan — this all depends on the results of the FAFSA form. In order to continue using these loan options for sophomore through senior year, families will need to fill out the FAFSA form every year.

If students need to borrow more than is offered in Direct Stafford Loans, there are two additional loan options: Parent PLUS Loans and private loans. Parent PLUS is a loan option offered through the federal government that parents can take out in their own names to pay for their students’ education. Private loans would be loan options for either the parent or the student through a private bank or other private lender. For more information about Parent PLUS or private loans, reach out to our Office of Student Financial Aid at 319-335-1450 to speak to a financial aid counselor.

When it comes to student loans, be sure that you are borrowing responsibly! A good rule of thumb is to not borrow more than what your starting salary will be when you graduate. That helps keep your loan payments within a range that is realistic for you to pay back. We encourage students to only borrow the amount that they need to cover their direct costs. Student employment on campus can be a great way to cover your personal expenses.

During your time as a student here, be sure to use the Office of Student Financial Aid’s financial literacy resources to learn how to budget effectively and manage your loans. These resources can give you the skills that you need to understand your credit and manage your funds successfully.

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

The Office of Student Financial Aid began sending award letters in mid-January for students that have been admitted and filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can view your financial aid award letter on MyUI through your admissions profile. Your financial aid award letter is a document that explains the cost of attendance at the University of Iowa, and details the options available to you in financing your education.

The first part of the award letter will break down cost. The first two line items will give you estimates for tuition & fees and room & board. These are the expenses that will show up on your University Bill. The next three lines give estimates for transportation, textbooks and supplies, and personal or miscellaneous expenses. These costs won’t show up on your bill, but they are things that we want to make sure you keep in mind.

Next, the “grants and scholarships” section will outline any gift aid that you may be receiving. This could potentially include the Federal Pell Grant, merit-based scholarships from admissions, or departmental scholarships. Grants are awarded based on financial need, which is determined by the results of the FAFSA. Scholarships are based on academic merit, including test scores and GPA. If you aren’t currently receiving any scholarships, you will have additional opportunities to apply for scholarships for your sophomore, junior, and senior year through the Iowa Scholarship Portal.

Next, your financial aid award letter will detail student loan options available to you through the federal government. These include Direct Stafford Loans and Parent PLUS Loans. If you have questions regarding your student loan options, I recommend calling the Office of Student Financial Aid at 319-335-1450.

Viewing your award letter is a great opportunity to sit down with your family and have a conversation about financial fit. Before you commit to any school, make sure that attendance is affordable for you and your family, and have honest conversations about paying for college.

If you choose to attend the University of Iowa, there are a few final steps we will ask you to complete to finalize your financial aid. If you are receiving merit-based scholarships through the Office of Admissions, you will need to log into your Admissions Profile and accept those awards. If you are planning to use your student loans, over the summer you will need to complete your student loan entrance counseling and sign your master promissory note. Once you have completed those final steps, your financial aid will be ready to go!

The Office of Admissions and Office of Student Financial Aid are more than happy to help you through any questions you have regarding your financial aid award letter. Be sure to keep in touch! The Office of Student Financial Aid can be reached via phone at (319) 335-1450, and via email at financialaid@uiowa.edu. The Office of Admissions can be reached via phone at 319-335-3847, and via email at admissions@uiowa.edu.

International Ambassadors: Grace Bryant

The University of Iowa is proud to welcome students from all over the world. Our International Ambassadors are students that are excited to make the college search process a little more personal to future Hawkeyes around the globe.

Here, you’ll hear from International Ambassador Grace Bryant, a first year student double majoring in International Relations with Spanish and French minors. She shares why she became a Hawkeye.

Why I Came to Iowa

As a high school student living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I always swore there was NO WAY I was going to attend college in-state. I didn’t want to run into people I knew all the time. I wanted to experience the diversity of a big city. I wanted a vast array of academic and experiential learning opportunities that I didn’t think were available at Iowa state schools.

However, upon visiting the UI campus, my opinions changed. Along with falling in love with the urban-feeling campus, I realized that the University of Iowa offers over 200 areas of undergraduate study, meaning anything and everything I was interested in learning about was likely to be offered here. I was excited to learn that UI has sent students to study abroad on all seven continents and that a high proportion of Iowa students find internships and employment opportunities during their undergraduate years.

Deciding to come to Iowa was one of the best decisions of my life. I have had the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes focused on my various interests. I am preparing to study abroad in Spain in the fall and have received scholarships to do so. I’ve become involved with several student organizations, through which I have met people from all over the state, country and world.

The University of Iowa is a wonderfully diverse campus in which I’ve had the opportunity to pursue my interests and dreams. I couldn’t be happier to be a Hawkeye!

International Ambassadors: Ala Mohamed

The University of Iowa is proud to welcome students from all over the world. Our International Ambassadors are students that are excited to make the college search process a little more personal to future Hawkeyes around the globe.

Here, you’ll hear from International Ambassador Ala Mohamed, a first year student double majoring in Marketing and Chinese. She shares her experience in getting involved on campus with Brand You, a fashion and marketing student organization. In Brand You, Ala is involved with styling and modeling for photo shoots, and promoting the organization to fellow students.

Brand You

One of the most exciting things about Iowa is the opportunity to join clubs and do things you enjoy. I am a big fan of fashion and graphic design, so I joined a club called Brand You and I’ve had the best experience so far.

One project I really enjoyed was a paparazzi styled photoshoot, where models had to pretend to shy away from the camera as if they were some sort of celebrity.

This project was inspired by Balenciaga’s latest Instagram posts which featured models also shying away from the paparazzi, but in Balenciaga’s latest winter collection. I really enjoyed this project because I was able to work with new people while doing something that I love.


10 Reasons You Should be a Hawkeye

There’s something for everyone at the University of Iowa, but here are just 10 of the many reasons you should join the Hawkeye family.

This campusOld Capitol

Take a lap around the University of Iowa’s campus and you’ll realize what we’re  talking about. Whether you’re taking in the beauty of Old Cap or strolling through one of our amazing new buildings, the beauty of campus is hard to beat. Plus, it’s big enough to not feel overcrowded, but small enough to get to where you need to go within 15 minutes by walking, biking, or taking a bus!

World-renowned programs

No matter what you choose to study at Iowa, you’re going to get the education you need to succeed with one (or more) of our 200 areas of study. We have the #1 creative writing program in the U.S., the first ever computer science and engineering program in Iowa, and one of the best teaching hospitals in the country. These are just a few aspects of the amazing academics offered here! From the arts to the sciences and plenty of overlap in between, you’re going to find your perfect major with a stellar program behind it.

Student organizations

There are over 500 student organizations on campus. That means you have 500+ chances to get involved and find your community! Can’t find an organization you want to join? Start one! Whether you’re looking for a creative outlet, a chance to gain career experience, or just fellow Hawks who share your interests, it’s easy to find something you love.

Downtown and CampusThe Iowa City community

Campus and Iowa City are quite literally intertwined. Downtown is located right across the street from the center of our campus: The Pentacrest. It’s a vibrant community with plenty of local shops, restaurants, and festivals for an experience that’s uniquely Iowa City. It’s been named a top five college town several years in a row!

The Hawkeye family

The support you’ll find at Iowa is unlike any other. Just a heads up: “Iowa Nice” is a thing, and we take pride in that. We’re here for you, whether that’s as simple as holding a door or as complex as providing support in a tough time. When you become a Hawkeye, you join a huge family rooting for your success. There are tons of resources on campus ready to help you out. Struggling with a class? Head to the Academic Resource Center. Need career advice? The Career Center is on deck. Just need to talk through something? The Counseling Center is ready to help. Not to mention all the individuals you can go to for help, like your academic advisor, resident assistant, teaching assistants, professors, and even your peers. While you may be leaving your true family back home, this one is the next best thing!

Be part of something bigger than yourself 

Hawkeyes make a difference. Every day, students are raising money for research, building homes, working with patients at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and strengthening the community. You’ve probably heard of The Wave. If you haven’t, get ready to ugly cry: At the end of the first quarter of each home Hawkeye football game, all 70,000 fans in Kinnick Stadium turn and wave to the patients watching from the top floor of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. This simple gesture that makes a huge impact is just one of the many ways Hawkeyes make the world a better place.

A small Big Ten school

The “Big Ten” title can make the UI seem, well, big. Spoiler alert: It’s actually not as huge as it sounds. Sure, there are over 33,000 total students on our campus, but that won’t stop you from familiar faces giving hearty hellos on your walk to class. The UI’s big-but-not-too-big size is great for anyone, whether you love a smaller community or to be surrounded by lots of people.

Resources to make your ideas reality

The UI has been named one of the top schools for entrepreneurship, and it’s easy to see why. The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center has been helping students launch startups for over 20 years. With events like the Startup Games, the Business Model Competition, and even the Elevator Pitch Competition, students can walk away with skills to navigate the world of entrepreneurship (and maybe a little cash, too).


Sure, almost any university can offer campus jobs and research positions. But only at the UI can you find the mentors that come with them. These faculty and staff are passionate about what they’re doing, and are eager to help students along their career paths. Fun fact: 1 in 3 undergraduate students are involved in groundbreaking research at Iowa.

The food

Obviously when you get to college, you need to eat! The food options on this campus are boundless. There are 3 dining halls, 14 campus cafes, and a food truck located all around campus for easy access. And guess what? It’s actually good. UI Dining makes all kinds of effort to source local ingredients and come up with different menus for students. There are also ah-mazing made-to-order options, late night stations, and so much more.

So there you have it. Choosing where you’ll spend your next four years is a big decision, but hopefully you choose to join the amazing Hawkeye family!

Orientation Preparation: What You Need to Know

Hello future Hawkeyes,

I know summer has just begun, but we are already excited for class to start up again this fall and to welcome you all to the University of Iowa. Orientation is one of your first college experiences as you will get familiar with campus and pick out your first class schedule. As someone who is returning to work for Orientation Services for the second year and a recent graduate of the University of Iowa, I have a few tips on how to have a successful orientation program!

 1. Prepare in Advance

  • Upload your student ID picture at least 7 days prior to your orientation program for it to be ready for pick-up when you arrive on campus.
  • Make sure you know your Hawk ID (usually a name/letter combination) and password. An example of a HawkID for Joe Doe would be jdoe.
  • Finish part one of Success at Iowa online on your ICON account.
  • Take your placement tests such as the ALEKS Math Placement Test to ensure that your class registration goes smoothly.
  • Download the app HawkTools if you would like to access the 2-day orientation program agenda in advance.

2. Pack Accordingly

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Iowa summers get hot and humid but also know that some buildings may be cold due to air-conditioning. Plan for plenty of walking and bring a water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • Bring a swimsuit or work-out clothes if you would like to take part in our late-night activity at the Campus Recreation & Well Center (CRWC).
  • If you stay in the residence halls, you will be given sheets, bedspread, towels, a washcloth, and a pillow. However, feel free to bring your own pillows or blankets if that helps you sleep better.
  • Bring toiletries and shower shoes if you plan on showering in the residence halls.

3. Bring a Positive Mindset and Attitude

  • Orientation can be a nerve-racking time for a lot of students but having a positive attitude can make the experience more enjoyable. Be ready to be adaptable and take advantage of getting to know your peers!
  • Start thinking about your future and potential majors or careers that grab your attention. Think about your strengths, weaknesses, and relevant class, work, or volunteer experiences that have influenced you.

4. Share Your Experience with Others

  • Keep your family, guests, and friends in the loop and think about sharing your expectations for college with each other on the drive up.
  • Take photos and share them on social media. If you use the hashtag #UIOrientation, you will be entered in to win a Hawk Shop giftcard!
  • Make sure to follow our Facebook Page University of Iowa Orientation Services for updates and pictures throughout the summer: www.facebook.com/uiorientation


We are all looking forward to meeting you soon! I hope you found these tips helpful. As always, Go Hawks!

Samantha Westphal
Social Media Coordinator
UI Orientation Services

Campus Resources

Hi Future Hawks!

With just months left until you begin your first college classes at the University of Iowa, I want to remind you of resources available to help you succeed academically and personally at the University of Iowa!

At your summer orientation program, you will meet your academic advisor and select your classes for the fall semester. Your academic advisor is a wonderful resource to you throughout all of your years in college, but most importantly your first semester. Your Academic Advisor can help provide insight to help you decide what you would like to major in, how classes can best fit your interests, help you create a balance between schoolwork and having free time or being involved on campus. They are like a one-stop-shop for any questions on how to succeed your first semester.

It is important to focus on your academics upon arrival to Iowa, and seek out resources that will help you do your best in your classes. Supplemental Instruction is a free resource offered for assistance in many of the classes students will take during their first year at Iowa. It is a tutoring session led by an upperclassman who has previously exceled in the course. The Academic Resource Center (ARC), located in the Iowa Memorial Union, assists students with finding tutoring opportunities, but is also a great place to start learning about our other tutoring centers on campus. Learn more about the opportunities here.

Don’t forget to have fun and get involved on campus! If you have questions about different student organizations or how to take the first steps to being involved, make sure to stop by the Pick One Fair during On Iowa! or reach out to the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. Remember there are over 500 different student organizations and ways to make connections on campus!


Erin Monroe

Erin Monroe
Admission Counselor
The University of Iowa
Office of Admissions

Decison Day

Hi Future Hawkeyes!

Each day, it is getting closer to the deadline to accept your offer of admission. The last day to accept your offer of admission to the University of Iowa is May 1st , and we want to do everything possible to help you make your decision.

Important factors to consider:

  • Do you feel comfortable on campus?
  • Does the University of Iowa feel like home?
  • What do you see yourself getting involved in on campus?
  • Is this the right financial fit?

Consider visiting campus! If you have not visited the University of Iowa yet, we strongly encourage that you do so before May 1st. If you have been to campus before, we would love to welcome you back! This is a great opportunity to ask questions to our current University of Iowa students. By visiting campus you can gain a better feel for the way campus is set up and where you will be spending your time as a student for the next four years. We would also encourage you to explore downtown Iowa City and get a taste for the local culture that makes up our eclectic college town. Click HERE to schedule a visit, or call our Admissions Visitor Center at 319-335-1566.

What remaining questions do you have about the University of Iowa? Please contact our Office of Admission to speak with an available Admission Counselor to find the answers to your questions to help you make your decision. Phone: 319-335-3847 Email: admissions@uiowa.edu

In the end, trust your gut. If Iowa feels like home and you are excited about all of the opportunities that come with attending a Big 10 institution with a small town feel, make sure you accept your offer of admission via your admissions profile by the May 1st deadline.

We are excited to welcome you to the Hawkeye Family, and we hope to see you on campus this fall!

Go Hawks!

Erin Monroe

Erin Monroe
Admission Counselor
The University of Iowa
Office of Admissions

The Final Stretch

It’s about four months away from your high school graduation, congratulations! But don’t forget about your long-term goals. Before you know it, you will be caught up in the excitement with the end of high school activities, hanging out with friends, and preparing for your summer festivities. While these are all things to look forward to, there are some key factors to keep in mind over the next few months to prepare you for college and set yourself up for success.

First, don’t forget to finish strong in your classes! Your grades still matter. Even though you have already been admitted to Iowa or other institutions, you still need to try to get the best grades possible. Colleges will be requesting your final transcripts upon high school graduation. These final grades will be used to confirm that you are in good academic standing prior to starting at the University of Iowa.

Next, you should apply for scholarships within your community. Work with your high school counselor to find scholarship opportunities. Many times, your high school counselor will have some great pointers or places to begin searching for outside scholarships. Also, consider looking at scholarships on a national level, such as databases like Fastweb and College Board.

Over your high school career you may have taken Advance Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate Program (IB), or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) courses. Now, you might be wondering if you can receive college credit for your hard work in these classes. Visit our Credit by Exam Options to see how you can earn college credit before you arrive on campus. This will free up time and money to potentially pursue a double major, an additional minor, and/or a study abroad experience.

If you have not applied to the University of Iowa yet, but still have interest in attending, our application deadline is quickly approaching on March 1st! Apply now, HERE!

For students who have applied and been admitted, you have until May 1st to accept your offer of admission. You can accept your offer of admission via your admission profile by paying the $250 acceptance fee.

Enjoy your last few months of high school, and welcome to the Hawkeye family!


Erin Monroe

Erin Monroe
Admission Counselor
The University of Iowa
Office of Admissions

Your College Visit Guide

Visiting a college campus is one of the most important and helpful things a student can do in their process to select the college that is the best fit. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider to make sure you will get the most out of your visit to campus at the University of Iowa and ways to make it memorable.

  • Before you visit:
    • Reflect on what are the most important factors a school needs to have for you to attend.
    • Prepare a list of questions.
    • Research Iowa City and see if there are other things you would like to do outside of your scheduled visit.
    • Begin to think about what you might like to study in college. What is your major? At Iowa we offer over 200 areas of study, you can learn more here.
  • On your visit:
    • Make the most of your campus tour! Be sure to ask your tour guides about their student experience, see how they are involved on campus, ask for advice about what they wish they had known before coming to college, etc.
    • Get all of your questions answered! Make sure you come prepared with some questions about your college “deal-breakers”- what do you want to make sure the University of Iowa offers to ensure you the best possible college experience. Talk to your tour guides, speak with Admissions staff, ask questions during the presentation! Remember, this campus visit is about you- the people who you come in contact with during your visit are there to help you determine if Iowa is the right fit for you, so if there is something you are dying to know more about, don’t be afraid to speak up!

While on campus, I would encourage you to also check out our eclectic Downtown Iowa City with over 70+ restaurants and unique boutiques to shop, conveniently located directly across the street from the Pentacrest. Begin to explore the city you might call home for the next four years! There are multiple coffee shops that students make their own over their time at Iowa and are popular study spots! Be sure to check out Java House on Washington Street for a taste of local flavor and a glimpse of what could be a part of your future study routine.

If you are looking for unique ways to supplement your campus visit and would like more ways to learn about student life and what it is like to live in Iowa City, here are some tips:

Visiting a college campus is an exciting time, so don’t forget to have fun and take lots of pictures. I recommend also taking a minute or two after your visit to write down how the campus made you feel. This will help when you are comparing colleges after you have gone on several college visits.

If you have questions regarding your campus visit, or would like to schedule one, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Admissions at 319-335-1566.

Erin Monroe

Erin Monroe
Admission Counselor
The University of Iowa
Office of Admissions