Education & Schools
Lt. Governor Simon: Keep college affordable PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Justin Stofferahn   
Monday, 15 October 2012 14:28

Education reformer calls for transparency, targeted state aid, middle class tax credit

CHICAGO – October 11, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited University of Illinois at Chicago on Thursday to urge state, federal and higher education leaders to work together to keep college affordable so thousands of Illinois students can earn the credentials needed for good-paying jobs.

Governor Quinn’s point person on education reform, Lt. Governor Simon presented a broad-based approach to tackle rising tuition costs and emphasized the importance of higher education, state and federal cooperation before she shadowed two students in a chemistry lab work-study program.

Simon supports College Choice Reports, a standardized report for all degree-granting institutions that would help students analyze real cost, debt and graduation rates across institutions. She is also serving on a state task force that could change the way need-based state grants are awarded to students as early as next school year.

The goal is to stabilize the cost for public universities and community colleges, following tuition and fee increases that have outpaced inflation, family incomes and available aid over the past 20 years. To pay the bills, students racked up an average of $26,682 in student loans in 2010, up 14.3 percent from three years earlier and more than double what they owed in 1995, according to Pew Research Center report released last week.

“We’ve set a goal to have 60 percent of working-age adults hold college credentials by 2025. To reach our completion goal, we must make college more affordable. College cannot be accessible only to the privileged, when it is a prerequisite for a good-paying job here in Illinois,” Simon said.

Simon outlined three ways higher education, state and federal leaders could work together to keep college affordable:

·         Consumer protections: Simon supports House Bill 5248, which would require all degree-granting institutions that operate in Illinois to publish online College Choice Reports. The reports would contain information such as net costs, average debt and completion rates in an easy-to-read and easy-to-find format. Unlike the federally proposed “shopping sheet” which provides cost information after a student applies to a school, the College Choice Report would be available to students online before they apply, to help them find a college or university that fits their needs and their budget.

·         Targeted assistance: To better use state resources, Simon wants strengthen the Monetary Award Program and insure MAP grants promote college attendance and completion and reduce the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students. MAP grants are currently awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students based on financial need, but state funding reaches only about half of eligible students. A MAP Eligibility Task Force is evaluating ways to improve distributional equity and encourage timely degree completion.

·         Tax relief for middle class families: Over 9 million students and families are taking advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, saving them up to $10,000 over four years of college. Simon supports making this federal tax credit permanent and preventing it from expiring at the end of this year.

“Cutting investments directly related to economic growth doesn’t make sense. We should work together on policies that prioritize education and employment, not shortchange Illinois students and quality employers,” Simon said.

Eric Zarnikow, executive director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, cited recent MAP award activity as evidence that affordability should be a key issue for Illinois leaders. For every eligible student who received a MAP grant this school year, another was denied due to lack of state funds. 

“MAP is one of the largest needs-based financial aid programs in the country. While approximately 150,000 students will receive an award this year, just as many will be left on the sidelines as a result of limited funding,” Zarnikow said.

“The higher education community looks forward to working with Lt. Governor Simon and state leaders to maintain and restore funding and support policies that will help more students graduate with a quality college education in a timely and cost-effective manner,” said George Reid, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Simon said policy makers should keep students like UIC junior Mena Poonaki in mind as they address college affordability issues. Poonaki is a chemistry major who is paying for college through her work-study lab assistantship researching protein interactions in the brain. Simon worked alongside Poonaki and her classmates in UIC’s Science and Engineering building.

“Paying for college is my responsibility,” said Poonaki, who was born in Ohio but grew up in Iran and depends on work study and aid to cover costs. She moved to Chicago with extended family four years ago and selected UIC based on its strong science program. “Work study allows me not only to pay for school, but gain career experience and help me achieve my goals.”

Simon will visit each public university in Illinois for a College Affordability Summit this fall. Upcoming visits include Southern Illinois University in Carbondale on Monday, Oct. 15; Illinois State University and Western Illinois University on Thursday, Oct. 18; and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville on Friday, Oct. 19.

“As a nation and a state, we need to make higher education affordability a higher priority,” Simon said.

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Lt. Governor Simon: Keep college affordable PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Richard Martin   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:51

Kicks off affordability summits with UIC work study students

 

CHICAGO – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will call for state, federal and higher education leaders to work together to keep college affordable for all students during College Affordability Summits this fall at public universities across the state.

 

Simon will meet with University of Illinois at Chicago work study students on Thursday morning and advocate for stronger transparency, targeted student aid and a federal tax credit for middle class families. The students are conducting brain research in the UIC chemistry lab.

 

The average costs for a public university education have outpaced family incomes and available aid, increasing 128 percent since 1980 when adjusted for inflation. “We’ve set a goal to have 60 percent of working-age adults hold college credentials by 2025. To reach our completion goal, we must make college more affordable. Higher education costs should be a higher priority for our leaders,” Simon said.

 

The Governor’s point person on education reform, Simon is backing legislation for College Choice Reports, a standardized report for all degree-granting institutions that would help students analyze cost, debt and graduation rates across institutions. Simon also serves on the state’s MAP Eligibility Task Force that was created to provide the Illinois General Assembly with recommended MAP rule changes to better target the need-based assistance to students. Their report is due January 1, 2013.

 

The College Affordability Summits will begin Thursday, Oct. 11 at University of Illinois at Chicago and continue next week at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale on Monday, Oct. 15, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University on Thursday, Oct. 18 and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville on Friday, Oct. 19. Additional dates and locations will follow.

 

EVENT: University of Illinois at Chicago, Affordability Summit

TIME: 10:15 a.m.

DATE: Thursday, October 11

PLACE: Science and Engineering South Building, Room 4444, 845 W. Taylor St., Chicago

NOTE: Media should assemble in the chemistry lab for the press conference with Simon and the work study students. Immediately following the press conference, Simon will work alongside the students in the lab. The job shadow is for photo and video spray only.

 
Loebsack to Visit Iowa Schools to Highlight 21st Century Skills PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 14:32

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack announced today that he will visit Iowa City West High School, Muscatine High School, and Muscatine High School’s East Campus, TOMORROW, Wednesday, October 10, 2012.  Loebsack is a co-chair of the bipartisan 21st Century Skills Caucus along with Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), and they have together introduced the 21st Century Readiness Act, H.R. 2536.  Loebsack will speak with students and educators about their experience in the development of 21st century skills.  There will be media availability at each stop.

 

21st Century Skills Visits at Area High Schools

 

Iowa City West High School

2901 Melrose Avenue

Iowa City, Iowa

8:00 a.m.

 

Muscatine High School

2705 Cedar Street

Muscatine, Iowa

10:15 a.m.

 

Muscatine High School East Campus

1409 Wisconsin Street

Muscatine, Iowa

11:30 a.m.

 

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Douglas and Laura Lambert new members of Luther College Parents Council PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Julie Shockey   
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 14:11

DECORAH, IA (10/08/2012)(readMedia)-- Douglas and Laura Lambert of Coal Valley, Ill., are new members of the Luther College Parents Council. They will serve as representatives of the first year class. They are the parents of Kristen Lambert, a first-year student at Luther, and Kim, a 2010 graduate of Luther.

Luther's Parents Council works to maintain and strengthen the ties and interests among current Luther parents, in order to support the mission of the college. Parents receive regular communication from Council members who write letters each semester with updates from college administrators about campus issues and opportunities, and to encourage support.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,500, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

 
Lt. Gov. Reynolds announces recipients of STEM Scale-Up Programs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Monday, 08 October 2012 15:26

(DES  MOINES) – Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today announced that more than 800 schools and community organizations will be participating in scale-up programs for the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council.

“The focus of the council’s first year was figuring out how to begin delivering first-rate STEM education programs to students all over the state,” said Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “We have had some outstanding STEM programs in Iowa, but whether students had access depended on where they lived. These scale-up programs have changed that.”

Over the spring and summer, six regional STEM hubs were created with the appointment of regional hub managers and regional advisory councils. The regional managers were responsible for seeking applicants for the scale-up programs and have been busy notifying scale-up applicants as to whether or not they were selected.

“Applicants were selected based on need and capacity,” said Jeff Weld, Executive Director of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “We will be closely watching factors such as: test scores of our participants, attitudes and intentions of kids who participate in these programs, and readiness for post-secondary STEM study and careers to tell us the impact of our mission.”

The deadline for applications was Sept. 14, 2012, and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council received over 900 applicants wanting to bring STEM programs to their communities.

“We were so impressed by the number of educators who applied for STEM programs for their kids. They understand the importance of the assuring more children have outstanding opportunities to learn about STEM,” said Reynolds. “This initiative is about increasing innovation, productivity and opportunity in Iowa, and expanding STEM education programs across Iowa moves us in that direction.”

Ben Allen, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and University of Northern Iowa President, added, “The robust response to the Scale Up programming just goes to show the strong interest Iowa's kids have for STEM learning. We'd like to thank the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in making the availability of this programming a reality."

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce.

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