Civic News & Info
Sen. Franken Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Families and Students Understand the True Cost of College PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:04

The “Understanding the True Cost of College” Act Will Ensure Families Know Exact Cost of College When Deciding Which School to Attend


WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/24/12]— U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said families and students will gain a more accurate picture of exactly how much college will cost them before deciding which school to attend under bipartisan legislation he authored and introduced today. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tim Johnson (D-S. Dak.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined as original cosponsors.


Sen. Franken’s "Understanding the True Cost of College Act," introduced Thursday, would create a universal financial aid award letter so that students can easily compare financial-aid packages between schools.  It would clarify what financial aid families will receive from a school and create standard terms for the aid offered so that students can accurately compare offers from different schools. Right now, schools do not use standard definitions or names for different types of aid, so students and families often report having difficulty figuring out the differences between grant aid—which does not need to be repaid—and student loans, which do need to be repaid.

“The amount of debt students in Minnesota graduate with has skyrocketed, and part of the problem is that students often don’t have a clear picture of how much their education is going to actually cost them,” said Sen. Franken. “My legislation will require schools to use a universal financial aid letter so students and their families will know exactly how much college will cost, and will help them compare apples to apples when deciding what school a student will attend.”


“This commonsense legislation helps empower students and families with necessary information to make an informed choice about college,” said Sen. Harkin. “Faced with soaring tuition and mounting debt, students lack the consistent, clear and useful financial aid information they need to compare their options and make the decision that is right for them.  As Congress grapples with the pressing and complex issue of college affordability, this bipartisan legislation addresses a key piece of the puzzle and will help millions navigate the maze of financial aid information thrown their way through a standardized, comprehensive, consumer-friendly form.  This is not about more information, but about the right information that students need when making such an important decision about their future.”

“I am proud to help lead the Understanding the True Cost of College Act, which would mandate fairer and more accurate disclosure in financial aid offers to students,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “It would provide for clearer terminology and definitions colleges use in their financial aid letters. Students would better understand the differences in the financial aid packages they receive from each institution, and make more informed decisions in choosing college.”

“College affordability must be a top priority for the federal government so that millions of students  and future students at America’s colleges and universities can graduate with a diploma and not a pile of debt,” said Sen. Schumer. “I am proud to have partnered with Senator Franken to create a requirement that all higher education programs inform consumers about their financial aid options in a uniform manner, which allows them to make apples-to-apples comparisons when considering a college’s price tag. This proposal will help ensure that students receive a top-notch education that is as affordable for families and students as possible.”

“This initiative will empower students and parents with the information they need to make the best financial decision for their families and to avoid taking on more debt than they will be able to repay,”said Sen. Grassley. “This is one way to address the problem of student debt on the front end rather than after the fact.  Also, the more we can help students and parents become savvy shoppers, the more colleges will be forced to rein in rising costs to compete for students.”

“I believe in America’s opportunity ladder, and higher education is an important rung on that ladder,”said Sen. Mikulski.“This legislation will help families who are stressed and stretched to make an informed financial decision by requiring all colleges to provide basic information on the costs of enrolling at the school of their choice. Higher education is part of the American dream – it shouldn’t be a financial nightmare.”

“Not all student aid is created equal and students deserve to know exactly what kind of debt they are taking on and how much they will have to pay back,” said Sen. Wyden. “Student aid packages vary from school to school and are often difficult to compare with each other. The difference between a $20,000 grant and a $20,000 high interest loan can mean the difference between an affordable and an unaffordable education for many students, yet often times this distinction may not be readily apparent. Students deserve to know as simply and clearly as possible what they are taking on and the choices they have.”

“Students today have enough obstacles keeping them from a quality education, deciphering the paperwork shouldn’t be one of them.  We need to make it easier to understand the options for financial aid and exactly what the full cost will be,” said Sen. Cardin. “I am proud to be a cosponsor of legislation that requires uniform, consumer-tested financial aid award letters with standard definitions.  This will go a long way toward helping students fully understand their funding options and commitments.”


The "Understanding the True Cost of College Act" would:

  • Require institutions of higher education to use a uniform financial aid award letter.
  • Call on the Department of Education to work with colleges, consumer groups, students, and school guidance counselors to develop standard definitions of various financial aid terms for use in the uniform financial aid award letters.
  • Establish basic minimums of information that must be included in the uniform financial aid award letters, such as: cost of attendance; grant aid; the net amount a student is responsible for paying after subtracting grant aid; work study assistance; eligible amounts of federal student loans; expected federal loan monthly repayment amounts; and disclosures including disclosures related to private loans, treatment of scholarships, and the terms and conditions of federal financial aid.
  • Require the Department of Education to establish a process to consumer test the uniform financial aid award letter and use the results from the consumer testing in the final development of the uniform financial aid award letter.


In Minnesota, Sen. Franken’s bill is supported by the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State University Student Association, the Minnesota State College Student Association, and the Minnesota College Access Network. Nationally, the bill is supported by the American Federation of Teachers-AFL-CIO, the National Consumers League, Campus Progress Action, the Institute for College Access and Success, Education Trust, and the National College Access Network.



Scott County Board of Supervisors' Tentative Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Chris Berge   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:04
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Special Committee of the Whole - 8:00 am
Conference Room 638, 6th Floor, Administrative Center

1. Roll Call: Cusack, Earnhardt, Hancock, Minard, Sunderbruch


2. Discussion with the following Authorized Agencies:

8:00 A.M. -

8:30 A.M. -

9:00 A.M. -

10:00 A.M. - EMA - Ross Bergen

10:30 A.M. - Quad Cities First/Chamber - Bill Martin and Tara Barney

11:00 A.M. - Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau - Joe Taylor

Generations - Christa Merritt

Medic - Linda Frederiksen/Kevin Greenley

Community Action of Eastern iowa - Roger Pavey

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Special Committee of the Whole - 12:00 pm

1. Roll Call: Hancock, Minard, Sunderbruch, Cusack, Earnhardt

2. Discussion with the Center for Aging Seniors, Inc.

3. Other items of interest.

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Reclaiming the American Dream PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 15:02
Expert Calls for ‘Economic Disobedience’

The national mood remains anxious, worried.  We have millions of Americans out of work, many of them Baby Boomers who’ve seen what they worked for these past 30 years disappear:  a predictable career, financial security, home equity, retirement savings. The foundation they’ve worked so hard to build seems to have collapsed before their very eyes.

“They feel lost. They see hedge-funders and investment bankers as having hijacked the American Dream from the middle class,” says Peter Weddle, former CEO of Job Bank USA, Inc., and author of A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream (

“Boomers – and all working Americans, for that matter – feel as if all of the opportunity has been sucked out of the land of opportunity, and they don’t know how or even if they can succeed in this changed world.”

But America is still the leader of the global economy and its future is as bright as it ever was, Weddle says. Why? Because Americans are individually prone to innovation and creativity, and collectively, the most diverse pool of workers in the world, he says.

“For all the unresolved immigration issues we have in the United States, we still have the best workforce on the planet.  Our diversity gives us a huge advantage over the competition in the global economy,” Weddle says. “We have every kind of talent the world has to offer, while other countries such as China, India and Japan have very homogenous cultures so everyone basically brings the same talent to the table.”

That talent, however, is being wasted.  The U.S. workplace has become an investor-driven market, a place where workers are treated as disposable cogs who are costs to be minimized rather than capabilities to be maximized on-the-job, Weddle says. The only way out, therefore, is something he calls “economic disobedience.”  If every American stands up and demands their right to be employed as a person of talent – and if they then elevate that talent and bring it to work with them – they can reclaim the American Dream, Weddle says.

He sees Baby Boomers already beginning to do this. The number of 50- to 64-year-olds enrolled in college jumped 17 percent from 2007 to 2009, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“These are the people who see this time as a moment of liberation – a chance to reinvigorate their talent so they can perform at their peak on-the-job,” Weddle says. “And that self-reliance and individual determination is how our country will recapture its mojo.”

A national human resources expert, Weddle says people don’t necessarily have to go back to school or reinvent themselves. But they do need to identify their talent – their innate capacity for excellence – and take a proactive approach to integrating it into their career.

“It may be a gift for getting things organized, for resolving conflicts, for explaining complex topics in simple terms,” he says. “Every single one of us has a talent and when we apply it at work, our job satisfaction – and our pay – goes up.

“Instead of work being a four-letter word, it becomes something to get excited about and to feel good about. We rekindle our self-confidence, self-respect and determination and we produce an economic revolution that restores democratic capitalism.”

About Peter Weddle

Peter Weddle, a former recruiter and human resource consultant, is the CEO of the International Association of Employment Web Sites, a trade organization. He has written or edited more than two dozen non-fiction books regarding careers and employment; “A Multitude of Hope” is his first work of fiction. Weddle is the founder and former CEO of Job Bank USA, Inc., one of the largest electronic employment services companies in the United States.

Blackhawk Hills Annual Meeting PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Julie Jacobs   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:31
ROCK FALLS, IL – Blackhawk Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) would like to announce that the annual meeting will be held Thursday, May 24, 2012 at the Freeport Country Club in Freeport, IL. The public is welcome to attend the event with a cost of $20.00 per person.

About Blackhawk Hills RC&D

Blackhawk Hills RC&D is a not-for-profit corporation based in Rock Falls, IL, that serves Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties in northwest Illinois. Blackhawk Hills RC&D’s services include community planning, development assistance, natural resources conservation and protection support, and grant writing and administration. Blackhawk Hills RC&D is sponsored by local county boards and Soil and Water Conservation Districts and is overseen by an 18-member council, consisting of three representatives from each of the six counties.

Questions about Blackhawk Hills may be directed to Julie Jacobs at (815) 625-3854 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Employers Support Governor Quinn’s Plan to Rescue Public Pension and Medicaid Systems PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:17

SPRINGFIELD – May 23, 2012. With just eight days left in the spring legislative session, Governor Pat Quinn today announced a surge of support from businesses and economic development groups across Illinois for his plans to rescue the state pension and Medicaid systems. Recognizing the positive impact the Governor’s plans will have on small and large employers, businesses throughout the state urged lawmakers to pass major pension and Medicaid stabilization reforms this spring session. More than 50 businesses and economic development groups backed the Governor’s proposals.

“The Chicagoland Chamber strongly supports Governor Quinn’s plans to stabilize and strengthen our Medicaid and pension systems. One of the most important things to the business community is a strong, stable business climate, which provides employers with the certainty they need to invest more, grow more and create more jobs. By addressing these two major issues, our elected leaders can pave the way for more economic growth in Illinois,” Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jerry Roper said. “The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce stands with Governor Quinn in urging the General Assembly to make the tough decisions – and take the tough votes- to address these challenges this spring session.”

Fast-growing public pensions and Medicaid currently take up 39% of state general revenue spending, and will grow to 50% next year without major reforms. Inaction by lawmakers this spring to fundamentally reform both systems could also severely limit the state’s ability to fund core services like education and public safety, threaten the state’s credit rating and hurt the long-term sustainability of both systems. On Monday, Medicaid restructuring legislation was filed to reform Illinois’ Medicaid system.

“Putting Illinois on the path to fiscal stability will be good for our employers and good for jobs,” Governor Quinn said. “If we want small and large businesses to continue to grow in Illinois, we must give them the certainty they need to invest and create jobs.”

Governor Quinn recently proposed a plan to fundamentally restructure the Medicaid system and save it from collapse by creating $2.7 billion in savings. The governor’s Medicaid plan cuts waste, fraud and abuse, and raises the price of cigarettes to bring back dollar for dollar federal matching funds and help make people healthier. The governor also recently proposed a bold plan to stabilize the pension system, which is expected to save taxpayers $65 to $85 billion, eliminate the unfunded liability and allow public employees who have faithfully contributed to the system to continue to receive pension benefits.

“Mitsubishi Motors North America, along with the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and others, support Governor Quinn's call to action to reform Illinois' pension laws and review Medicaid policy in what remains of this legislative session. These actions are necessary to improve the business climate of our state by improving Illinois’ financial health and by building a platform for sustainable economic growth,” Mitsubishi Motors North America Chief Operating Officer Jerry Berwanger said.

“The budget deficit is the single most important issue facing the state. Illinois needs to address its state pension and Medicaid issues quickly. If the rating agencies downgrade the state’s debt, it could cost the taxpayers millions of dollars, and would risk making Illinois less attractive to businesses. We encourage our state’s elected officials to come together and work with Governor Quinn to fix this problem yet this month,” Navistar Chairman, President and CEO Dan Ustian said.

Supporter List

The Governor’s framework for Medicaid and pension reform has been backed by more than 50 individual businesses and economic development groups around the state, including those listed bellow.


American Council of Engineering Companies of IL

Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce

Bison Gear

Bley LLC
Cable Television & Communications Association of IL

Canton Area Chamber of Commerce

CBOE Holdings

CenterPoint Properties
Chicago Heights Business Council

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)
Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce U.S.A

CSX Transportation

Ely Consulting


Ford Motor Company

Funk Linko, Inc.

General Electric

Horizon Therapeutics, Inc.

Illinois Business Roundtable
Illinois Coal Association

Illinois Farm Bureau
Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC)
Illinois Technology Association
Illinois Technology Partnership


Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce

Knight Hawk Coal Company


McLean County Chamber of Commerce
Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)

Mitsubishi Motors North America

Motorola Mobility

New Generation Power

New World Ventures

Outdoor Amusement Business Association

Prairie Material
Prairie State Energy Campus

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce

Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce

Rapps Engineering
Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning

Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce

Solar Service Inc.

Suburban Minorities Contractors Association

Tate & Lyle

Union Pacific

Wanxiang America Corporation
Will County Center for Economic Development
Women's Business Development Center (WBDC)

This support builds on the recent endorsement from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce for the Governor’s pension reform proposal, which also included support from many local chambers of commerce, also listed below. 

Champaign County Chamber of Commerce

Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce

Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

Downers Grove Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry

GOA Regional Business Association

Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce

Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce

Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce

Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce

Jersey County Business Association

Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce

Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce

Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce

Manito Chamber of Commerce

Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce

Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce

Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

Peoria Heights Chamber of Commerce

Rockford Chamber of Commerce

Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce

Washington Chamber of Commerce


For more information about Governor Quinn’s reform proposals to save Illinois’ Medicaid and pension systems and restore stability to the state budget, please visit


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