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  • Education & Schools
    Braley: The Department of Education Needs to Hear First-Hand from Iowans PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Education & Schools
    Written by Kirsten Hartman   
    Friday, 19 September 2014 13:57

    Congressman turns hundreds of comments about Iowans’ experiences with college student loans over to Secretary of Education

    Washington, D.C. – After asking for and receiving hundreds of stories about Iowans’ experiences attaining and paying back student loans, Rep.  Bruce Braley (IA-01) today shared those comments with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

    “The Department of Education needs to hear first-hand from Iowans about the struggles current and former students face as they try to get and repay student loans,” Braley said. “The fact is that tuition and debt levels are rising much more quickly than wages—and we’ve got a responsibility to put solutions on the table.”


    Iowa students graduate with the 6th highest average student debt of any state. According to the Project on Student Debt, the average debt of an Iowa college graduate is $29,456 and Iowa ranks 3rd nationally in the percentage of students who graduate with debt, with nearly 71% taking on student loan debt.

    Yesterday, Braley unveiled the outline of his College Affordability Plan which contains four central components to help students, graduates and parents deal with rising tuition costs and growing student loan debt. The plan includes tax incentives, a grant program for current college students facing financial hardship, and a bill allowing students to refinance their loans at lower market rates.

    For decades college tuition costs have been rising significantly. Student loan debt today totals $1.2 trillion, $864 billion of which is backed by the federal government. More than 70 percent of students who graduated from college in 2012 had student loan debt.

    # # #

    Angela Vargus of Muscatine Named to the Dean's List at Ohio Christian University College of Adult and Graduate Studies PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Education & Schools
    Written by Rachel Fulks   
    Friday, 19 September 2014 13:45

    CIRCLEVILLE, OH (09/15/2014)(readMedia)-- Angela Vargus has been named to the Dean's List at Ohio Christian University College of Adult and Graduate Studies for the Fall 2013 Semester.

    To be eligible for the Dean's List, a student must achieve a semester GPA of 3.5 or better and be enrolled in at least 12 "graded" semester hours.

    Ohio Christian University, founded in 1948 is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation, and is committed to offering a complete education that develops students intellectually, professionally, and spiritually. OCU offers degree programs for traditional undergraduate students, graduate students, and adult and online students. Additionally, OCU's Trailblazer Academy allows high school students to complete college classes on campus or online. All programs are designed to equip students to become leaders in their careers, communities, families, and the world.

    Mount Mercy University recognizes spring graduates PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Education & Schools
    Written by Kelli Sanders   
    Friday, 19 September 2014 13:42
    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Sept. 15, 2014) - The student(s) listed below graduated from Mount Mercy University in August 2014. Graduates were part of a spring commencement ceremony held in May.

    Marissa Jade Albracht of Bettendorf graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

    Founded in 1928, Mount Mercy University offers students a personal, practical and faith-inspired education that distinctly blends professional career preparation and liberal arts with a strong curriculum grounded in leadership and service. Mount Mercy University is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and is a member of the Conference for Mercy Higher Education [CMHE].

    Over 85 years, Mount Mercy has grown in size and reputation, adapting to meet the changing educational needs of the Cedar Rapids community. Mount Mercy offers baccalaureate and graduate education to nearly 1,800 students. Popular undergraduate majors include business, nursing, biology, elementary education and criminal justice. Graduate programs are offered in business, education, nursing, marriage and family therapy, strategic leadership, and criminal justice. For more information on Mount Mercy, visit www.mtmercy.edu.

    Braley to Unveil ‘College Affordability Plan’ PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Education & Schools
    Written by Kirsten Hartman   
    Friday, 19 September 2014 09:16

    Congressman: These ideas provide a blueprint to get college students, graduates, and parents the help they need

    Washington, D.C. – Rep.  Bruce Braley (IA-01) today announced that this week he will roll out his College Affordability Plan—a plan constructed after a recent tour of colleges and universities throughout the state of Iowa, and after gathering hundreds of comments from Iowans about their experience attaining and repaying federal student loans.

    “Having recently visited Iowa college campuses and reading comments from Iowans sharing their student loan stories, it’s clear Iowans are struggling with rising tuition costs and high student loan debt—my College Affordability Plan would provide a helping hand to those Iowans,” Braley said. “Education is the key to economic opportunity in Iowa and across the country—and we owe it to current and future students to make a higher education more attainable.”


    Braley’s College Affordability Plan contains four central components, several of which will be proposed in legislation throughout the week:


    1) Strengthen American Opportunity Tax Credit

    The American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) provides college students relief from the high cost of tuition. The AOTC is a $2,500 tax credit that can be taken to offset the cost of tuition, fees, and course materials for undergraduate students at two and four year colleges and universities. However, the AOTC is set to expire at the end of 2017. Braley’s College Affordability Plan would:

    ·         Make the AOTC permanent and increase the credit from $2,500 to $3,000

    ·         Index AOTC to inflation to ensure that the credit increases as tuition rises

    2) Double Student Loan Interest Deduction

    This important deduction allows student loan borrowers to deduct up to $2,500 on interest paid on their student loans. This is critically important to Iowans, whose graduates have the 6th highest student loan debt of any state. Braley’s College Affordability Plan would:

    ·         Double the deduction from $2,500 to $5,000

    ·         Index the deduction to inflation ensuring that it will increase as tuition rises

    3) Help Current Students Who are in Danger of Dropping Out Due to Financial Difficulties

    Many students begin their college career on sound financial footing but are then unable to finish their degree because of worsening or unexpected financial problems. Many of these students drop out—even in their final year of school—leaving them with high debt and no degree. Braley’s College Affordability Plan would:

    ·         Create a program providing tuition retention grants to college students near graduation who are in danger of dropping out of school due to financial reasons

    o   These small grant awards would be given to cover the tuition a student is unable to pay, or supplement other financial aid to help the student stay in school

    o   Students receiving the grant awards must be identified as being in good academic standing, and in danger of dropping out because they can’t pay their tuition


    4) Allow Borrowers to Refinance Student Loans

    Currently, student loan borrowers are unable to refinance their student loans.  Borrowers could save thousands of dollars if they were given the opportunity to refinance their loans.  Braley’s College Affordability Plan would:

    ·         Include the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, allowing individuals to refinance their student loan debt at lower interest rates, helping address the record high levels of loan debt and delinquencies by giving borrowers the ability to refinance their existing loans to the lower current interest rate of 3.86%.

    ·         The U.S. Department of Education estimates this legislation would benefit 311,000 Iowa student borrowers.

    Braley recently called on Iowans to share their stories receiving and repaying student loans, receiving hundreds of responses from across the state. In addition to the above proposals, Braley will share those responses with the Department of Education this week.

    Student loan debt today totals $1.2 trillion, $864 billion of which is backed by the federal government. More than 70 percent of students who graduated from college in 2012 had student loan debt.

    # # #

    Lt. Governor donates books to Du Quoin Schools PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Education & Schools
    Written by Ken Lowe   
    Friday, 19 September 2014 08:45

    Hundreds of books donated during Du Quoin State Fair will go to students

    DuQUOIN – Sept. 15, 2014. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon donated hundreds of books to Du Quoin Community Unit School District 300 today, bringing to a close a back-to-school book drive to promote literacy.

    “Thanks to the generosity of so many people, students in Du Quoin are going to find their school library stocked with some brand new titles this year,” Simon said. “I would like to thank all the people who donated, and to encourage the students to take advantage of it by getting lost in a good book.”

    Simon’s office collected the books during the Du Quoin State Fair, which ran Aug. 22 to Sept. 1, and gathered books from fairgoers. The Lt. Governor’s Office has worked directly with volunteers of the Illinois Reading Council’s Illinois Reads program throughout the summer to promote books authored by Illinoisans, and to collect the new and gently-used children’s books.

    “At Du Quoin Elementary and Middle School, it's our goal to create a resource-rich library for all of our students and encourage them to become life-long readers,” said Diana Rea, principal of Du Quoin Elementary School. “We sincerely thank Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon and her office for the generous book donations provided to our libraries. We believe, over time, this donation will help hundreds of students improve their reading skills and increase their overall love of reading. Thank you so much for the considerate gift!”

    “The Illinois Reading Council is proud to call Lt. Governor Simon an Illinois Reads ambassador. As such, she has helped us to promote reading all across the state,” said Illinois Reading Council Past President Tammy Potts, committee chair for Illinois Reads. “With 36 titles by 36 Illinois authors, Illinois Reads has something for everyone, from read-alouds for babies, to interesting and thrilling books for students and seniors.”

    District 300 students will be getting plenty of use out of the books; as part of a year-long literacy program, students of the middle school are required to have a library book out at all times.

    As an ambassador for Illinois Reads, Simon partnered with the Illinois Reading Council to hold the back-to-school book drive at her tents at the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fairs. Visitors could drop off new or gently used children’s books, hear Illinois authors read from their works, and also register to win the 36 books selected for Illinois Reads 2014.

    For more information about Illinois Reads, please visit www.illinoisreads.org.


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