Interested in continuing your education to better your career, but not sure where to start? Click on this easy-to-read chart to learn more about education needed for career paths and the possible financial aid services available:

Have questions about education and careers?
See below for answers!

What is the Last Dollar Scholarship and how do I apply?

The Last Dollar Scholarship is a state-wide program available to all Iowans planning to earn a post-secondary credential in a high-demand job.

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is all you need to do to apply!

To visit North Iowa Area Community College for more details and assistance,

Please Click Here

How do I get my Hi-SET (formerly GED)?

If you have not completed high school,
Please Click Here
If you need to learn English as a second language,

Please Click Here


What is a high demand career?

High Demand Careers are those that have the largest number of positions currently available in your area. Most require some type of training. To learn what High Demand Careers currently exist in Iowa,

Please Click Here

Not sure what career is right for you?

Below are some FREE tools to help you determine what career might be best for you – just click on a link, answer a few questions and see how your interests and skills might fit into possible careers.

Need further assistance with Career Exploration?

A. Want assistance with career exploration to move into the workforce as quickly as possible? Contact:

IowaWORKS-Mason City

  • 600 Pierce Avenue
  • Mason City, IA 50401
  • 641-422-1524 Ext. 44536

B. Want assistance with career exploration to further your education? Contact your local college:

North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) Admissions

  • Pierce Administration Building
  • 500 College Drive
  • Mason City, IA 50401
  • 641-422-4245
  • Returning NIACC Students: 641-422-4207

To see NIACC’s Career Planning Guide:
Please Click Here

Buena Vista University (BVU)-Mason City

  • 500 College Drive
  • Mason City, Iowa 50401
  • 712-749-1950

LaJames College

  • 24 2nd Street NE
  • Mason City, IA 50401
  • 641-424-2161

C. Are you undecided about your career goals or path, where to get started, or how to juggle training and work? Contact:

IowaWORKS-Mason City

  • 600 Pierce Avenue
  • Mason City, IA 50401
  • 641-422-1524 ext. 44536 

How long does it take to earn a certificate or diploma (assuming full-time)?


  • Certificate = 6 weeks to 9 months
  • Diploma = approximately 1 year
  • AA or AAS = 2 years
  • Bachelors = 4 years
  • Masters = Bachelors plus 1-2 additional years, depending on program

What is FAFSA? Why do I need it? What documents do I need to complete it? Who helps me with it?

FAFSA stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid.

  • The FAFSA will tell you what financial assistance is available to you for your education.
  • To complete the FAFSA, typically you will need your taxes and W-2s from 2 years prior to enrollment (for example: if you want to enroll in 2019, you will need 2017 taxes and W-2s). Situations vary so it is best to contact your local college Financial Aid office.
  • For help, you can contact any of the following:

NIACC Financial Aid Office

  • Pierce Administration Building, Room: 102
  • 500 College Drive, Mason City
  • 1-888-466-4222 Ext. 4168
  • Email:

BVU Financial Aid

  • Activity Center on NIACC Campus
  • 500 College Drive, Mason City
  • 712-749-1954
  • Email:


  • 600 Pierce Avenue
  • Mason City, IA 50401
  • 641-422-1524

North Iowa Community Action Organization

  • 641-423-7766 or 1-800-873-1899 

For Free help completing taxes, you can contact any of the following:

  • ISU Extension & Outreach CG County 641-423-0844 
  • North Iowa Community Action Organization  641-423-7766 or 1-800-873-1899

 If you wish to file a FAFSA yourself but do not have a computer of internet:

When open IowaWORKS offer FREE computers and internet to complete your application.  Please contact them for hour


  • 600 Pierce Avenue
  • Mason City, IA 50401
  • 641-422-1524


Do I need a transcript? Does it cost money?

  • Yes, you will need a High School transcript. You request an official transcript from the school you graduated to be sent to the college you plan to attend. Costs for transcripts vary from free to $5.00.
  • If you earned a GED or HiSET, you will need to provide those final test scores.
  • If you have earned any previous college credits, you will need to request transcripts from those colleges to transfer any earned credits. You can contact the college you attended for your transcript; again costs vary, but typically $1.00-5.00.

Do I need an ACT/SAT score to enroll? If I do not have that, do I have to take the test before I can enroll?

  • NIACC utilizes the Accuplacer Assessment for student placement, so it is not necessary to have an ACT/SAT score. However, NIACC will accept ACT/SAT scores if completed within the past 3 years.
  • BVU Mason City location does not require ACT nor SAT scores to enroll.
  • It is best to check with the school or schools that you are considering attending to 
    find out their testing requirements. 

Is there an application fee to apply for school? Can I apply online?

  • NIACC does not have an application fee. You can apply online at:
  • BVU does not have an application fee. You can apply online at:
  • Application fees for state colleges average from $40-50 dollars – please check with 
    your school of interest for their application requirements. 

When does school start? Are there classes in the summer? Can I study online? Can I take classes at different times if my work schedule varies?

  • Typical college diploma/degree courses begin at the end of August and Mid-January as well as in May and June; these are the semester start times for NIACC. BVU has 6 term start dates throughout the year and each term is 8 weeks long.
  • NIACC offers several short-term certificate programs focusing on high demand occupations. These start throughout the year and most range from
    1 to 6
     weeks long.  
  • Yes, courses are available day or night, in a classroom and online. Please note that different programs have different class schedules so it is best to check with the college for class time availability.
  • Taking courses online is the best way to accommodate for a flexible schedule.

Does Mason City Bus or Region 2 Transit go to NIACC, during the day and at night?

  • Yes, Mason City City Bus or Region 2 Transit goes to NIACC via the Northeast/Purple Route – to see on the map,
    Please Click Here
  • Yes, North Iowa Counsel of Governments Region 2 Transit does go to NIACC.
  • For more information about Mason City Public Transit,

Please Visit

Are there any resources the college or community offers in regards to childcare, health or other financial assistance for the student?

The answer is YES, there are resources offered that you can reach out to for assistance!
Here are a few:

  1. Many EMPLOYERS offer education assistance, so be sure to inquire at your workplace!
  2. IowaWORKS
    641-422-1524 ext. 44536
  3. North Iowa Community Action
  4. Government Childcare
  5. North Iowa Area Community College
  • PACE :
    (Pathways for Academic Career Education and Employment) program is designed to help students be successful in their education to employment journey. A Pathway Navigator works with eligible participants to identify and minimize challenges, connecting students with college and community resources, monitoring student progress, evaluating need for program/financial supports, and assisting students with finding post-NIACC employment.
  • GAP: Provides tuition assistance and career supports to eligible applicants enrolling in GAP-approved non-credit certifiate programs. These include short-term certificate trainings for high demand occupations such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation and information technology. Get in – Get Out –Get to Work!
  • GEER (GAP-II): GEER is like an extension of GAP as it focuses on non-credit certificate program and approved credit certificate programs that are not eligible for Federal financial aid (non-FAFSA).
  • TRIO: Student Support Services (SSS) helps eligible students stay in college and graduate. TRIO offers counseling, tutoring, college survival skills, orientation classes, career exploration, transfer assistance, and cultural awareness. Participants must be citizens or legal residents of the United States who are currently enrolled full-time in a credit program, and meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements: first generation student, low income, and/or students with a physical r learning disability.

Need more inspiration?

Inspiring Ted Talks for Students  Please Click Here