Education & Schools
Treasurer Fitzgerald Tells Holiday Shoppers to Gift Themselves with Tax Deductions from College Savings Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Michael Fitzgerald   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 14:00

Contributions made through December 31, 2011 can be deducted from 2011 state taxes.

DES MOINES, IA (11/15/2011)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald has a simple solution for the gift-giving dilemmas that are usually associated with the holiday season. "Instead of trying to put together a wish list of toys that will soon be lost in your children's closet, invite the special people in your life to give one of the most meaningful gifts a child may ever receive – help toward paying for a college education," stated Fitzgerald. "Opening a College Savings Iowa account has two-fold benefits, not only are you helping a child prepare for his/her future education, but you can take advantage of the tax benefits as well. It's the perfect gift!"

College Savings Iowa lets anyone – parents, grandparents, friends and relatives – contribute towards college costs on behalf of a child. Iowa taxpayers contributing to College Savings Iowa can deduct up to $2,865 per account from their state taxable income in 2011.* To take advantage of this great tax-savings opportunity, investors can contribute online at All other contributions must be submitted by December 31, 2011. If the contribution is being mailed, checks must be postmarked by December 31, 2011. For more information about College Savings Iowa, call 888-672-9116 or visit

Ugift® - Make giving college savings easier

"When you're saving for college, you need all of the help you can get. That's why College Savings Iowa is pleased to offer the Ugift® service to plan participants," stated Fitzgerald. This easy-to-use service allows participants to invite family and friends to celebrate a child's milestones by contributing to his or her College Savings Iowa account.

To learn more, participants can log on to their existing College Savings Iowa accounts and click on the Ugift logo or go to and click on Plan Details. Then click on Ugift FAQs under the Plan Details section.

* Adjusted annually for inflation. If withdrawals are not qualified, the deductions must be added back to Iowa taxable income.


In Iowa’s Interest: Q & A on the Overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act and its Impact on Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 13:43
by Senator Tom Harkin

To compete in the global economy, ensure our long-term prosperity and protect our middle class, I have always believed in the need to provide every Iowa child with a world class education. Iowa has always been known for great public schools-indeed, high school seniors in our state generally score above national averages. Unfortunately, many Iowa students leave school without the basic skills they need to succeed in college or a career. In 2009, only 79 percent of Iowa 12th graders tested above a basic reading level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and only 71 percent scored basic or higher in math. Moreover, disparities for low-income children, kids with disabilities, and minorities persist.

As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, I am leading the effort to reauthorize our nation’s K-12 education law and fix the problems in the law’s most recent iteration – the No Child Left Behind Act. I negotiated a bipartisan bill that passed the HELP Committee late last month. It now moves on to the full Senate for consideration.

Q: How will the legislation impact Iowa?
The bill overhauls the No Child Left Behind Act by eliminating one size fits all policies that create pressure to “teach to the test.” It will allow Iowa to design its own school accountability system and ensure parents and families have access to the information they need about their students. The bill also sets a new, high bar for students to graduate high school ready for college and a career. It will support strong teachers and principals, while giving communities the flexibility they need to address the unique needs of their children.

Q: What are the goals of the legislation?
This long-overdue reauthorization will help ensure that every child has access to a great education that prepares them for success in college and a career in the global economy. It builds on the strengths of current law while getting rid of the policies that have proven ineffective.

Q: Who supports this new measure?
The bill has gained support from numerous groups in Iowa and around the nation such as the Iowa State Education Association, the Iowa Parent-Teacher Association, the Iowa Head Start Association, Save the Children and the Bipartisan Policy Center, among others.

Q: How can Iowans obtain more information on the bill?
Please visit or contact any of my local offices.

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

Lt. Gov. Simon urges Congress to support military children PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 12:52
Simon backs federal Impact Aid for North Chicago schools

CHICAGO - November 11, 2011. On Veteran's Day, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon urged Illinois members of Congress to maximize federal education funding for school districts serving Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago.

In a letter sent to the delegation today, Simon asked U.S. House members to support legislation that would allow the five elementary and high school districts that serve Great Lakes families to continue pooling their student cohorts to qualify for a higher rate of federal Impact Aid.

Impact Aid is designed to help cover the cost of educating students whose families live or work on federally owned, property tax-exempt land, such as military bases. Without the legislation, North Chicago-area schools could lose millions of dollars.

Simon serves as the Governor's point person on education reform and is the chair of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee. The legislation is supported by Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.

"As we celebrate Veterans' Day and honor those who have served and are serving our country, it is important that we support their families as well," Simon said in the letter.

The federal Impact Aid funding would benefit all students in five public school districts serving Great Lakes: Glenbrook High School District 225, Glenview School District 34, North Chicago District 187, North Shore District 112, and Township High School District 113.

More than 35,000 U.S. Navy recruits pass through Great Lakes' doors each year, joining an additional 13,500 students who attend training schools on the base annually. About 2,000 children of Great Lakes personnel attend public schools in the area.

As chair of the military base committee, Simon coordinates the state's activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois, and also provides advice and recommendations for base retention, realignment and reuse efforts.

The military base committee was established in 2005 in response to nationwide base closures, and it continues to coordinate local, state and federal action on retention, realignment and reuse efforts.


Being an American Essay Contest Deadline Approaches PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Rachel Gillespie   
Friday, 11 November 2011 14:39

Students Can Win Up to $1,000 in National Essay Competition Focused on the Constitution


Arlington, VA – The deadline for high-school students and their teachers to submit essays for the Bill of Rights Institute’s national Being an American Essay Contest is fast approaching.  The Contest asks students to explore the Founding principles outlined in the Constitution by answering the question: “How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?”

The Contest, which has quickly become the largest high-school essay competition of its kind, totaling over 80,000 submitted essays, is administered by the Bill of Rights Institute, a non-profit educational organization in the Washington, D.C. area devoted to educating young people about the Constitution and Founding principles.

“This contest is unique in that it gives students the opportunity to think about the important Founding principles communicated in our Constitution,” said Dr. Jason Ross, Bill of Rights Institute Vice President of Education Programs. “This contest is vital to helping students see the Founding principles as a meaningful part of the American experiment of self-government.”

The top three student winners from each of five geographical regions will be awarded cash prizes of $1,000 (First Place), $500 (Second Place), and $250 (Third Place). Teacher sponsors of each student winner will also receive a cash prize of $100.

Essays must be submitted online at by 11:59 P.M. PST on December 15, 2011. Supporting contest materials, including lesson plans meeting Common Core standards, are provided at no cost to teachers who want to incorporate the Essay Contest into their classroom.

The Contest is sponsored by the History Channel. “We are pleased to support the Bill of Rights Institute’s Being an American Essay Contest,” said Dr. Libby O'Connell, SVP, Corporate Outreach and Chief Historian, History Channel. "The contest encourages students to think critically and truly makes the past relevant in their lives today."

The Essay Contest serves as a key part of the Bill of Rights Institute’s mission to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society. Complete contest details can be found below.





North Eastern Region:
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

Southern Region:
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia as well as Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands

Mid-Western Region:
Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin

Central Region:
Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming

Western Region:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington as well as Guam, American Samoa, and American Armed Forces Schools Abroad (APO)

SPONSORING ORGANIZATION: Bill of Rights Institute, Arlington, VA.

The Bill of Rights Institute, founded in 1999, is a nonprofit educational organization. The mission of the Bill of Rights Institute is to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society.

FUNDING PROVIDED BY: History Channel (New York City, NY).

CONTEST GOAL: To help promote dialogue among students and teachers about American Founding principles. The Essay Contest serves as a key part of the Bill of Rights Institute's mission to educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society.

ESSAY QUESTION: “How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?”

ELIGIBILITY: Students in grades 9-12 who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and are either attending public, private, religious, or charter schools, being home-schooled, or participating in a GED or correspondence school program but are no older than 19 years of age.  Military bases and U.S. territories are also invited to participate.

ESSAY LENGTH: No more 1,000 words.


  • Adherence to Essay Question
  • Originality
  • Organization
  • Writing Style
  • Depth of Analysis

JUDGES: High school teachers

STUDENT CASH PRIZES: Three cash prizes per region will be awarded to students:

  • First Prize: $1,000 each
  • Second Prize: $500 each
  • Third Prize: $250 each

TEACHER CASH PRIZES: Cash prizes of $100 will be awarded to the teachers of all winning students:

CONTEST START DATE: September 17, 2011

DEADLINE FOR ESSAY SUBMISSIONS: December 15, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. PST. All essays must be submitted at



Save for College While Cheering on Your Favorite College Team PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Karen Austin   
Friday, 11 November 2011 13:13

Treasurer Fitzgerald Encourages Iowans to Start Saving by Registering for a Chance to Win a $200 College Savings Iowa Account Plus an Autographed Football

DES MOINES, IA (11/08/2011)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald is encouraging Iowans to think about saving for their loved ones future higher educational expenses while cheering on their favorite college team this fall. "Much like the college football season, the time to start saving for college is over before you know it," Fitzgerald said. "That is why we want families to know it's never too early to start planning for their children's future education."

As a way to raise awareness about the importance of saving for higher education, College Savings Iowa is giving away three $200 College Savings Iowa accounts plus an autographed football from the University of Iowa, Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa's head football coaches. For more information and to enter the giveaway, please visit

College Savings Iowa is an affordable, tax-advantaged option for families who are saving for their children's higher education. It takes just $25 to open a College Savings Iowa account, and anyone – parents, grandparents, friends and relatives – can invest on behalf of a child. Participants who are Iowa taxpayers can deduct contributions up to $2,865 per beneficiary account from their adjusted gross income in 2011 and there no income or residency restrictions.*

Investors do not need to be a state resident and can withdraw their investment federally tax-free to pay for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, books, supplies and certain room and board costs at any eligible college, university, community college or technical training school in the United States or abroad. To learn more about College Savings Iowa, go to or call 1-888-332-7545.

*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 the 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.

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