Education & Schools
In Iowa’s Interest: The Impact of the Stafford Loan Rate Hike on Iowa Students PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:06

by Senator Tom Harkin

Many Iowa students have taken their final exams, packed up for the summer, and may have even started a summer job. What they may not realize, however, is that a debate is raging on in Washington right now that could have a significant impact on the interest rate they pay on their federal student loans next school year.

On July 1st of this year, interest rates are set to double on new loans if Congress does not take action. Working with my colleagues, I have introduced the ‘Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike’ – a short-term remedy that will freeze the interest rates on subsidized federal Stafford loans for one year. And the bill is completely paid for by closing a tax loophole.

Unfortunately, Senate Republicans blocked a vote to even move forward on the bill. As long as they continue their filibuster, there is no clear way forward to prevent the rate hike less than two months from now.

Who will be impacted?

Some 7.4 million Americans students – including an estimated 255,000 students enrolled in Iowa colleges and universities – would be required to pay an average of $1,000 more per year of school if Senate Republicans continue to block this fix. And this is a very big deal for Iowa. Nearly 72 percent of Iowa’s college graduates have student loan debt – the fourth highest percentage in the nation. Those borrowers are carrying an average of $30,000 in student loan debt, which is the third highest level in the nation.

What is the current interest rate on Stafford loans and how much will it rise?

The fixed interest rate on current loans, held by 7.4 million low and middle-income undergraduates across the U.S., is currently 3.4 percent. Unfortunately, the rate is set to double to 6.8 percent on new loans starting July 1. That would mean an increase of about $1,000 for each loan payer per year.

Is student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy like other debt?

No – student loan debt, unlike other forms of debt, is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. And in today’s tough economy, it is unacceptable to ask middle class students and families to shoulder sharply higher student loan interest payments.

For more information about the ‘Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike’ or to tell me your story of how this rate hike would impact you, please visit my website at, click on my Facebook page at or contact any of my offices across Iowa and in Washington, D.C.

A PDF version of the column is available by clicking here.

Luther College students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Julie Shockey   
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 09:01

DECORAH, IA (05/15/2012)(readMedia)-- The following local students were inducted into the Luther College chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society at a ceremony held Saturday, April 14 in the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther campus:

Jennifer Winder, a Luther College senior from Bettendorf, Iowa. Winder is the daughter of Marie and Troy Winder of Bettendorf. She is majoring in Spanish at Luther, and is a 2008 graduate of Bettendorf High School.

Dallas Wulf, a Luther College senior from Durant, Iowa. Wulf is the son of Neil and Chris Wulf of Durant. He is majoring in mathematics and physics at Luther, and is a 2008 graduate of Durant High School.

Carol Gilbertson, Luther professor emerita of English, was inducted as an honorary member. James Limburg, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., was inducted as an alumnus member.

Gilbertson delivered the Ruth A. Davis Memorial Lecture, titled "Slow Beauty."

Gilbertson was named emerita professor of English following her retirement from Luther College in 2011, having taught for 43 years as a member of the English department. After graduating from Augustana College, S.D., earned the master of arts degree from the University of North Carolina and the doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota, with a specialization in 17th-century British literature.

She has served Luther as an active scholar and poet, and recently published a collection of her poetry entitled "From a Distance, Dancing" (Finishing Line Press). Gilbertson has also published work in a wide range of journals, including Christian Century, Oberton, Pearl Magazine, and Vineyards: A Journal of Christian Poetry.

James Limburg graduated from Luther College in 1956. He holds the bachelor of divinity degree from Luther Seminary, and the master of theology and the doctoral degree from Union Seminary. He is currently professor emeritus of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul.

Since retiring in 2001, Limburg has served as a visiting professor at Pacific Lutheran Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., and United Seminary in New Brighton, Minn. He continues to teach and preach at a variety of churches in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Limburg has published a number of books on a variety of topics, and is a contributing author on the "Lutheran Study Bible" (Augsburg).

Luther College ( is one of a select group of private liberal arts colleges in the United States with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Each year, Luther honors outstanding seniors with selection to Phi Beta Kappa. Members are elected on the basis of broad cultural interests, scholarly achievement and good character.

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most respected undergraduate honors organization in the United States. The society has fostered and recognized excellence in the liberal arts and sciences since 1776, and the society's distinctive emblem, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic achievement.

Loebsack Introduces Legislation to Connect Rural Schools to the Digital World PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:56

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack recently introduced legislation that will target rural schools to ensure they have access to the latest digital learning technologies.  The Schools of the Future Act will provide grants to transform the typical classroom experience into one that is more student-centered and provides teachers with more accurate information and feedback on student progress so that they can better address the needs of struggling students. Loebsack is co-chair of the bipartisan Rural Education Caucus.

“Technology has the power to vastly expand the educational options available to students in rural areas, providing students with a cutting-edge 21st Century education regardless of geography,” said Loebsack.  “Digital technology holds great potential for rural schools, which often have trouble recruiting and retaining teachers and offering a variety of electives or advanced coursework.”

This legislation builds off of the work already being done in Iowa.  For example, the Iowa Department of Education is working with the University of Iowa to develop the Iowa Online Advance Placement Academy to deliver Advanced Placement courses to high school students across the state, particularly rural and small schools that may not have the capacity to provide these courses themselves, using online technology. The Iowa Department of Education also runs Iowa Learning Online (ILO), which allows students from across the state to enroll in any number of distance education courses, including high school credit classes and post-secondary courses available through Iowa community colleges and universities.

Specifically, the legislation Loebsack introduced will provide funding for schools to implement digital learning strategies such as:

· providing expanded curriculum opportunities,

· providing accelerated or advanced coursework, or

· personalizing the learning experience by providing content that is tailored to an individual student’s learning style, ability, and needs.


A Message from State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Karen Austin   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:52

DES MOINES, IA (05/15/2012)(readMedia)-- With summer just around the corner, parents and children alike are ready for a well-deserved break from the demands of homework, practice schedules and carpools. However, before packing away the books and pencils and leaving for summer vacation, I have an important message for parents – start saving now for your child's future college education. It will be here before you know it!

Saving for college is one of the most significant things you can do for your loved ones. With the cost of a college education rising faster than inflation, the majority of families will have to plan ahead in order to meet the challenges of paying for their children's higher education. My advice is to start saving early and to save regularly. Even a small amount of money, saved on a regular basis over an extended period of time, can grow into a substantial amount. Saving early may help reduce a family's need to borrow to cover educational expenses, which will help parents – and their children – get through college with less debt.

While any form of saving for college is better than not saving at all, there are advantages to using a 529 plan, such as College Savings Iowa. Administered by the State Treasurer's Office, College Savings Iowa offers multiple investment choices, including four age-based options that take into account the child's age and the account owner's tolerance for risk. As a general rule, age-based accounts opened for younger beneficiaries are heavily invested in stocks early on; these accounts try to maximize returns by taking advantage of the longer time horizon. As the beneficiary nears college age, the assets are automatically shifted to more conservative portfolios. This allows you to protect your capital and reduce the market risk before you begin making withdrawals for college expenses.

In addition, 529 plans offer significant federal and state tax benefits to help grow your savings even more. Contributions and earnings grow free of federal and Iowa state income taxes while invested and remain tax-free when used to pay for qualified higher education expenses at any eligible college, university, community college or accredited technical training school in the United States or abroad. Iowa sweetens the deal for investors in College Savings Iowa by allowing in-state tax payers who are participants to deduct up to $2,975 in contributions per beneficiary account from their 2012 adjusted gross income.*

With initial and ongoing contribution amounts as low as $25, College Savings Iowa is an affordable way for families to save in order to meet the rising costs of higher education. College Savings Iowa's multiple contribution methods, including electronic investment options that allow you to transfer money directly from an existing checking or savings account, make it easy for busy families to save regularly and manage their accounts.

As a way to help families start saving, we are celebrating "529 Day" on May 29 and giving away a $1,000 College Savings Iowa account. For more information and to enter the giveaway, please visit anytime during the month of May.

While a college education is an investment that lasts for a lifetime, the season to save for it is a lot like summer vacation – much shorter than you think. Start saving today and help make college a reality for a child in your life – you'll be glad you did! For more information about College Savings Iowa, visit or call 888-672-9116.

* Adjusted annually for inflation. If withdrawals are not qualified, the deductions must be added back to Iowa taxable income. The earnings portion of nonqualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.


Investment returns are not guaranteed and you could lose money by investing in the plan. Participants assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences. If you are not an Iowa taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or the designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program.

For more information about the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan, call 888-672-9116 or visit to obtain a Program Description. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in the Program Description; read and consider it carefully before investing.

Local Students Graduate PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by newsMedia   
Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:21

Kayle Ziegenhorn from Illinois City, Ill., Graduates from Brenau University

GAINESVILLE, GA (05/18/2012)(readMedia)-- Kayle Ziegenhorn from Ill. City, Ill., graduated from Brenau University with a Master of Business Administration degree after focusing studies on accounting.

Brenau conferred 786 degrees on 762 undergraduate and graduate recipients – some of whom have completed dual degree programs for both bachelor's and master's degrees. All told Brenau awarded 341 graduate diplomas and 430 undergraduate diplomas at commencement ceremonies May 4 and May 5 at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville.

Local Students Graduate from Creighton University

OMAHA, NE (05/15/2012)(readMedia)-- The following area students from your area were awarded degrees from Creighton University during the spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May. 12, 2012.

Stephanie Haas of Davenport earned a Bachelor of Science degree .

John Dunn of Eldridge earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree .

Jill Schmidt of Eldridge earned a doctor of occupational therapy degree .

CNN news anchor and former White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux was the commencement speaker and received an hororary Doctor of Humane Letters.

About Creighton University: Creighton University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution located in Omaha, Neb., enrolls more than 4,100 undergraduate and 3,200 professional school and graduate students.  For more information, visit our website at:

Kaitlyn Gutheil Graduates During Culver-Stockton College Commencement

Bettendorf, IA, native Kaitlyn Gutheil received a BA degree during the 156th Commencement held Saturday, May 12, 2012 on the campus of Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo. Gutheil majored in English while attending Culver-Stockton.

A photo slideshow of Culver-Stockton's 2012 graduation ceremony is available online at

Local Student Graduates from Azusa Pacific

AZUSA, CA (05/14/2012)(readMedia)-- The following students graduated from Azusa Pacific University on Sat., May 5, 2012. They joined nearly 1,400 graduates at the spring commencement ceremonies.

Bettendorf resident Matthew Atha graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a second Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical, Christian university committed to God First and excellence in higher education. With 51 undergraduate majors, 30 master's degrees, 13 credentials, 8 doctoral programs, and 14 certificates, the university offers its more than 9,900 students a quality education on campus, online, and at seven regional centers throughout Southern California.

Local students graduate from Huntington University

HUNTINGTON, IN (05/14/2012)(readMedia)-- Local Huntington University students participated in the 114th Commencement exercises on May 12.

The following local students were members of the Class of 2012:

Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest, and has listed the university as one of America's Best Colleges. Additionally, Princeton Review has named the institution to its "Best in the Midwest" list. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The university is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

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