Iowa Families Can Win Cash for Educational Expenses – Register by May 11

Iowa high school students and their families can enter weekly drawings for two $250 awards, and Iowa high school seniors can enter a grand prize drawing for two $1,500 awards by completing a free online tool that helps them estimate the total cost of a four-year undergraduate degree.

Learn more and enter the giveaway today!

Iowa high school students, and their parents or guardians, can enter their information for the drawings after completing the College Funding Forecaster until May 11. The free online tool provided by Iowa Student Loan uses information from students’ freshman year financial aid award packets, as well as outside scholarships and grants and family savings and earnings, to project estimated costs, funding gaps and potential student loan debt over four years.

“We want to help families make the connection between first-year costs and the total financial investment in a college education,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “This tool helps them see how their costs might increase, what happens when one-year scholarship awards are exhausted, and how the family and student contributions can play a role in reducing overall costs.”

The tool allows families to customize both expenses and available funding to adjust results for changes in students’ situations over the four years. The results show yearly and total estimated costs of attendance, available funding and projected funding gaps. The tool also provides informational tips on how to reduce costs and potential debt.

After viewing their results, users have the opportunity to enter the drawings. Two names will be drawn each week to receive $250 awards for educational expenses. In a grand prize drawing, two names will also be drawn to each receive $1,500 for the students’ college expenses in fall 2017. The grand prizes will be paid directly to the students’ colleges.

For details and complete rules for the giveaway, visit www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Giveaway. Or, to begin the College Funding Forecaster and enter the giveaway, go to www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Forecaster.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Thirty Students Receive $2,000 College Scholarship

High school seniors earned the scholarship after demonstrating financial know-how.

High school seniors from across the state of Iowa earned $2,000 for college while learning important financial literacy skills through the 2017–2018 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship sponsored by Iowa Student Loan.

“The financial tips I learned through this process will help me throughout my college years and into my future career.” ―Sadie Brockett, a senior at Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

More than 4,000 Iowa high school seniors registered for the scholarship between October 2017 and February 2018. Of those, nearly 2,000 completed two online financial literacy tools and a related assessment to qualify for one of 30 college scholarships. More than 70 students tied for a top score on the assessment. The 30 recipients were those who received the highest scores on an independently judged essay on what “responsible borrowing” meant to them.

Christine Hensley, Iowa Student Loan board chair, said that the Student Loan Game Plansm and ROCI Reality Check tools, which participants are required to experience to qualify for the scholarship are designed to help students and families avoid the pitfalls of heavy student loan debt.

“Student loan debt must be carefully considered to be manageable later in life,” said Hensley. “The components to qualify for this scholarship help our state’s students understand the impact that student loan debt can have, and we’re pleased that so many high school seniors are exposed to these important lessons through the scholarship process.”

“The Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge allowed me to expand upon what my high school has already taught me about college spending. I now understand specifically my college expenses and career outlook.” ―Regan Sylvester, a senior at Sioux Central High School.

Each recipient’s high school will also receive a $500 award to improve or implement financial literacy and scholarship programs.

Details are not yet finalized for the 2018–2019 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship. Interested families should watch for information about the program at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SeniorScholarship.

Scholarship Recipients
The following students each earned a $2,000 scholarship. Iowa Student Loan will send scholarship funds directly to recipients’ colleges.

Student Name Student High School Student Name Student High School
Ote Albrecht Le Mars Timber Kent Clarke
Sydney Alt Lone Tree Ashley Koos Marquette Catholic
Heather Baier Southeast Polk Carrington Kuehl Indianola
Ryan Bonthius Regina Grant Meiners Carroll
Sadie Brockett Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jeffrey Morische Osage
Zachary Calvert Dowling Catholic Josh Pulse Pleasantville
Emma Carlson Des Moines Christian Megan Rex Oelwein
Matthew Current Clinton Elly Schuemann Linn-Mar
Jacee De Vries West Lyon Rebecca Sharpe Norwalk
Katelyn Finnegan St. Edmond Robyn Stillmunkes Bellevue
Morgan Fritz Lake Mills Regan Sylvester Sioux Central
Maci Gambell Pekin Shawn Thacker West (Iowa City)
Megan Grimm Prairie Luke Thompson Okoboji
Kayla Hospodarsky Alburnett Ethan Trepka West (Iowa City)
Alyssa Jaeger Springville Allison Zelle Linn-Mar

By: Iowa Student Loan

11 Benefits of a College Saving Plan

Most states offer college saving plans, or 529 plans, that allow families to invest money that can later be used for qualified higher-education expenses. These plans offer savings and tax benefits over other ways of saving for college. Here are 11 reasons you may want to consider a 529 plan, such as a College Savings Iowa plan.

1. You can choose, and change, your investment strategy.
College saving plans offer a variety of investment tracks to allow you to decide how to invest contributions. You may choose from among recommended investment tracks based on the age of the beneficiary and your comfort level with risk. Or you may wish to choose from among individual portfolios of specific bond and stock funds.

After choosing your initial investment strategy, you can make changes over time. You may make changes to existing contributions twice a year.

2. You receive tax benefits.
Your 529 assets grow deferred from federal and state income taxes as long as the money remains in the plan. Many states also offer additional state tax advantages for in-state residents.

3.Qualified withdrawals are not subject to taxes.
Withdrawals used to pay for qualified higher-education expenses are also tax-free. This means any growth from your principal investments in a 529 plan used for qualified expenses will never be included in your income tax.

4. The assets are less impactful on financial aid.
The formula used to calculate financial aid treats 529 plan assets more favorably than it treats savings or investments owned by the student. According to savingforcollege.com, a maximum of 5.64% of all parental assets, including 529 plans owned by a parent or a dependent student, is counted toward the expected family contribution for college by the federal financial aid formula, compared to 20% of student assets.

5. Anyone can start or contribute to a plan.
You don’t need to be related to the student you name as the beneficiary of a 529 plan you open. This means you can be a parent, grandparent or friend of the student who will use the money, or you can be the student. There are no income limits, age limits or annual contribution limits for account owners.

Someone who would like to make a gift to the student can also make one-time contributions to an existing account.

6. Minimum investments are small.
College Savings Iowa allows initial investments or contributions of $25 or more and a minimum of $15 for employers that offer payroll deduction. Investments in 529 plans can be as large or small as comfortable for families.

7. You are not limited to your state’s plan.
You may choose to use any state’s 529 plan even if you don’t live there or the student doesn’t intend to attend college in that state.

8. The money can be used for attendance and other expenses at a wide variety of institutions.
The student beneficiary can use the money to attend any eligible two- or four-year college, postgraduate program, trade or vocational school, online college and university programs and even some international institutions or study-abroad programs.

Besides tuition, money can be applied to other qualified higher-education expenses like fees, books, housing, meals, supplies, computers and printers, software and internet access.

9. Plans are transferable.
If the student beneficiary named on the plan doesn’t need the money, it can be transferred to an eligible family member of the student, like a sibling, child, parent or spouse.

10. You can always withdraw the money if needed.
If the student earns a scholarship or enrolls in a military academy, you can withdraw up to the amount of the scholarship or the value of the education tax-free. If the student passes away or becomes disabled and is unable to attend college, there is also no penalty for withdrawals.

If you withdraw money for any other reason than these circumstances and the withdrawal is not used for a qualified higher-education expense, a 10% federal tax penalty will may apply to any earnings. (You would receive the full value of your contributions minus any administration fees.) A tax adviser can help you understand tax consequences of non-qualified withdrawals from a 529 plan.

11. A 529 plan may encourage college attendance and graduation.
Researchers have found that when money is set aside for college, families save more. Even when budgets are tight, families with even relatively small amounts of money earmarked for college find creative ways to save more. Additionally, the perceived value of higher education increased and a high percentage of parents felt their children would finish college.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Winners Announced for 2017 Save Now, Save Later Program

Parents across the state of Iowa are getting a $1,000 boost to their student’s College Savings Iowa® account this winter, thanks to Iowa Student Loan’s Save Now, Save Later: College Savings Plan Parent Giveaway.

Fifty parents have been chosen as winners in the program’s fourth year. Each parent will receive the $1,000 deposited directly to the College Savings Iowa account of their registered child. The registration period ran during September and October and was open to Iowa residents who have a student in grades six through 12 at an Iowa school.

“This program really helps highlight the importance of saving for college and being proactive with planning for your child’s future,” said Shari Higgins, a 2017 winner from Nevada. “The information presented was useful and something I can come back to later as I have questions.”

Parents who registered had a chance to experience the Parent Handbook, a new online educational module from Iowa Student Loan. The handbook provides financial literacy tips for parents with students in middle school or high school.

After the registration period, entries were chosen at random from nearly 4,000 qualified participants. Iowa Student Loan works directly with College Savings Iowa on the giveaway. College Savings Iowa is the state’s direct-sold 529 program, administered by State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald.

Winners of the Save Now, Save Later program:

Name City Name City
Kelsey Lorenzen Davenport Kristin Johnson Urbandale
Erika White Vinton Shari Higgins Nevada
Dawn Atwood Colfax Heather Kingsbury Vinton
Shanan Redinger Hanlontown Jennifer Sassman Waverly
Rhonda Sirfus Johnston Jennifer Tischer Mount Vernon
Michele Foreman Cedar Rapids Mary Hauptmann Algona
Kelly Willis Waverly John Flint Cedar Falls
Melissa Korell New Sharon David Finley Estherville
Rhea Wright Perry Karen Hamilton Council Bluffs
Rosely Imler Knoxville Susan Swartzendruber Knoxville
Amanda Lawless Saint Lucas Jason Carlson North Liberty
Jamie Carlson Guthrie Center Mary Dietrich Pleasant Hill
Sara Laures Cedar Falls Amy Carlisle Griswold
Amy Wilson Coralville Tami Wise Urbandale
Andrea Juergens Adel Lee Brungardt Council Bluffs
Dawn Gunderson Muscatine Nicole Metcalf Climbing Hill
Jody Fairbanks Anamosa Mundi McCarty Solon
Stephanie Gengler Merrill Julie Borelli Carroll
Andrea Masteller Clive Angela Beer Cedar Rapids
Amanda Salyars Muscatine Christina Hlas Adel
Eric Kovaleski Bouton Gayle Shatek Mason City
Kathy Oulman Forest City Regina Critchlow Carlisle
Tim Bloom Newton Tracie Rogiers Buffalo
Thomas Evans Dubuque Jody Sturmer Blue Grass
Amy Hammer Cedar Falls Scott McCarty Ottumwa

By: Iowa Student Loan 

 

New Tool Helps Students Make Informed Grad School Decision

Iowa Student Loan Encourages Grad Degree Candidates to Consider Future Debt

Iowa Student Loan has a new online tool to help students make informed decisions about their borrowing levels and their ability to successfully repay new student loan debt when considering the pursuit of an advanced degree.

The Grad Degree Gauge is a free tool available online.

Users are encouraged to consider their current and potential annual salaries with and without the new graduate degree; previous and future borrowing to pay for their education; and opportunities in a career associated with the intended graduate degree.

“I felt [the Grad Degree Gauge] was extremely helpful,” said Jordan Doetkott, a first-year graduate student studying organizational leadership at Grand View University in Des Moines. “It was very user friendly and a great asset to someone pursuing a master’s degree….it was straightforward and easy to navigate.”

The results are displayed as a number on a 0–100 gauge. The overall result is a composite of four indicators:

  • Current student loan debt in addition to maximum advisable new student loan debt
  • Anticipated salary change from the amount expected to be earned by holders of the previous degree, or the user’s actual salary if the user is currently in the workforce, to the amount expected to be earned by holders of the intended graduate degree
  • Number of new jobs in the indicated career by 2024 as projected by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Percentage of people working in the indicated career who have a graduate degree as indicated by the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics

“A lot of factors can come into play when people decide whether it makes sense to pursue an advanced degree,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “We want the ability to repay student loan debt to be one of the main things that students think about, whether they are continuing their education straight from a previous degree or going back to school after being in the workforce.”

 

Additional Resources
Also being debuted by Iowa Student Loan is the Parent Handbook, which consists of valuable tips that help families of students in sixth through 12th grades prepare for success in college and other postsecondary options. The Handbook is designed to address common questions and provide a roadmap for academic and financial success.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Registration Opens for College Scholarship Program

Scholarship Gives 30 Iowa High School Seniors Chance at $2,000,
Educates Them on College Borrowing and Personal Finance

Registration is open for a scholarship that offers Iowa high school seniors a chance to receive one of 30 scholarships worth $2,000 for college while learning important financial literacy skills. In addition, each recipient’s high school will receive a corresponding $500 award.

2017 Scholarship recipients with then Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

High school seniors may register for the Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SeniorScholarship between now and Feb. 16. Iowa Student Loan® will award $2,000 scholarships to 30 students who complete two online financial literacy tutorials and score highest on a related assessment. Registered students also receive emails highlighting financial literacy tips, such as the importance of early career and college planning and ways to reduce student loan indebtedness.

After registering for the scholarship, students receive emailed instructions for completing the three required online components. The two tutorials — Student Loan Game Plansm and the ROCI Reality Check — were developed by Iowa Student Loan to help students understand the consequences of college borrowing and discover how to maximize their return on college investment, or ROCI.

A related multiple choice assessment will check students’ understanding of the concepts in the tutorials. The 30 high school seniors who score highest on the assessment test will each receive a $2,000 scholarship that will be sent directly to their colleges in fall 2018. If top-scoring students tie, those students will be asked to write and be judged on a short essay so winners can be determined.

Each scholarship recipient’s high school will also receive a corresponding $500 award to be used toward scholarship and financial literacy programs.

“I’m incredibly grateful for Iowa Student Loan and the Financial Know-How Challenge Scholarship. The financial rewards as well as the skills I learned when applying will be a huge help to me … as I strive to pursue my dreams in a way that is financially responsible.”

— Ryan Wagner, a 2017 graduate of Fort Dodge High School and a recipient of the 2016–2017 scholarship

 

The Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship is open to legal U.S. citizens who are residents of Iowa; are seniors at an Iowa high school during the 2017–2018 school year; and attend college in fall 2018. It is a no-purchase-required program, and full rules and details are available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SeniorScholarship.

Register Today!

By: Iowa Student Loan

It’s Time to Have “The Talk”

TheTalk

How will your children know what to do in a situation that life throws at them if you don’t talk to them about it first?

Many parents assume that because they are adept at handling finances that their children will be too—by osmosis, perhaps? But your children, especially those heading to college for the first time this fall, need to be shown how to be financially responsible.

You may often hear about “financial literacy” as a key to producing financially responsible individuals, but a better term may be “financial well-being.” The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau recently published several documents related to this concept that outline an approach that advocates for consumers to achieve a state where they can:

  1. “fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations,
  2. feel secure in their financial future, and
  3. make choices that allow enjoyment of life.”

They describe having these three traits as “financial well-being.”

To achieve a state of financial well-being, one must be armed with more than knowledge. To make sound financial decisions one needs to be able to locate and process reliable information related to those decisions. Where can your children get this information? There are so many sources available online and in print, but kids need parental involvement in the process. It’s time for “the talk” about financial responsibility.

Discuss the three parts of financial well-being mentioned above with your children. Talk to your kids about what it costs to actually live the lifestyle they are accustomed to living. Discuss appropriate use of credit cards; explore credit scores; help them understand a mortgage; and discuss how to find the best deal when shopping for a loan—especially if they will need to take out a student loan for college. It’s OK if you need to look up financial terms like APR, equity or collateral—look them up together and learn together.

loanphotoLay out the problems with making only minimum monthly payments on credit cards—the required disclosure box on any credit statement can help show what happens when you pay only the minimum payment each month. Your children will most likely be shocked at the amount of time to pay off even a relatively small bill and the amount of interest that will be paid.

Find a loan calculator online and show them how much they will need to pay each month after they get out of college (if they have student loans). Ask them what they think they will need to earn in their first year at their first job to “feel secure in their financial future” and to enjoy the lifestyle they envision, knowing that student loan payments may be a given on top of a mortgage, a car payment and other expenses.

It’s never too early to learn about financial well-being. So gather the kids and start the process of providing them with the knowledge they need to be successful. They will thank you later.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Before You Apply for a Student Loan

BeforeYouApplyStudLn

So, your awarded financial aid isn’t enough to cover your full cost of attendance and you know you will need additional student loans to pay for college. Before you apply, consider how you’ll manage repayment. Here’s what you need to know.

Federal student loans are limited. Undergraduate students can take out only so much in federal student loans each year. If you need additional student loans above that limit, you may need to consider private student loans or parent loans.

You’ll need adult assistance. You will need to have a creditworthy cosigner for any private student loans, unless you’re the rare student who can meet underwriting criteria on your own. If your parents are willing to consider a federal Parent PLUS Loan, they will need to borrow that money and be responsible for paying it back themselves.

You will need to repay the debt. Student loans are not usually dischargeable for bankruptcy or other financial hardship. When you think about your repayment amount, remember:

  • Your repayment amount will be more than the original loan amount. Student loans accrue interest on a daily basis. At certain times, unpaid accrued interest may be capitalized, or added to your principal balance, and begin accruing interest as well.
  • You will have a limited income. Carefully consider how much a graduate with your major can realistically expect to make in an entry-level position. Add anticipated student loan payments for all your undergraduate years, including any federal loans in your financial aid package, to anticipated expenses for a realistic budget based on a starting salary. If you will not be able to meet all your expenses on your starting salary, you may need to rethink your ability to take on student loan debt.

You can make interest and other payments during college. Most lenders allow you to prepay or pay extra on your student loans at any time without penalty. In addition, paying interest as it accrues while you’re in school can reduce the amount of interest you’ll need to repay after graduation.

Private student loans vary. Every lender has its own underwriting criteria, qualification requirements, loan terms and repayment schedules. Before you sign for a loan, research your options. Consider:

  • Variable vs. fixed interest rates. A variable rate may go up or down according to market conditions, while a fixed rate remains the same throughout the loan term. A low variable rate is often appealing, but remember that it may change drastically over your term.
  • Actual interest rate. Many lenders offer different rates based on the applicants’ and cosigners’ credit. If you are unable to determine your rate upfront, consider the highest rates.
  • Repayment assistance and benefits. Some lenders or loan servicers offer assistance if you are unable to make your monthly payments. You may also be eligible for benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Consider these features carefully.
  • Managing repayment. Will you need additional loans for future years? Do you want to obtain all your loans from a single or limited number of lenders to make repayment easier? Will you want to consolidate multiple loans later, and does your lender offer that option?

You may need to rethink your college choices. If you find that you cannot afford to take on enough debt to pay your full cost of attendance, you may need to come up with a new plan.

  • Earn more. Increase your ability to pay college costs as they occur by earning more income while you’re in school and on breaks.
  • Reduce expenses. Your full cost of attendance may include expenses you can cut. Can living off campus without a meal plan save you money? Are the book and fees and transportation costs realistic for your situation?
  • Ask for help. Do you have relatives who are willing to offer you money for college? Are you eligible for additional scholarships, either through the school or outside entities?
  • Attend a less-expensive school. If you still cannot afford your cost of attendance without taking on unmanageable debt, you may need to consider withdrawing and attending a less-expensive school, at least for a year or two.

Visit Student Loan Game Plan for more information and tips.

By: Iowa Student Loan

30 Iowa Seniors Receive College Scholarship

SrScholarship-Winners-BlogImage

Iowa High School Seniors Each Earn $2,000
for Demonstrating Financial Know-How

High school seniors from across the state earned $2,000 for college while learning important financial literacy skills through the 2015–2016 Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship sponsored by Iowa Student Loan.

More than 4,300 Iowa high school seniors registered for the scholarship between November 2015 and March 2016. Of those, more than 2,200 completed two online financial literacy tutorials and a related assessment to qualify for one of 30 scholarships. The 30 winners were those who scored highest on the assessment and, because of a tie for top scores, received the highest scores on an independently judged essay.

“High student loan debt levels are a legitimate concern,” said Christine Hensley, chair of the Iowa Student Loan board of directors. “The scholarship is a great way to expose high school students to the concepts of minimizing debt and making responsible borrowing decisions right at the time they are making college decisions. We hear from parents every year that the process of experiencing our online tools as part of the scholarship qualification opens up enlightening conversations with their students.”

The tools, along with tips that registered students received by email through the scholarship period, are designed to help students avoid the pitfalls of heavy student loan debt, a continuing concern for college graduates in Iowa and nationwide, Hensley said. Student Loan Game Plansm and the ROCI Reality Check were developed by Iowa Student Loan to help students understand the consequences of college borrowing and discover how to maximize their return on college investment, or ROCI.

“The [scholarship] was extremely insightful to just how many expenses there really are in college,” said Ian Kubbe, an Ottumwa High School senior and one of the 2015-2016 recipients of the scholarship. “I strongly recommend this scholarship opportunity to any high school senior, not only for the financial benefit it provides, but also the helpful information about loans, college expenses and how to budget your money correctly.”

“This year we expanded the scholarship program to award more students with more college funds and to recognize the role high schools play in educating their students about important college financing concepts,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “This initiative is a tangible aspect of our mission to help Iowa students and families successfully pay for postsecondary education.”

Each recipient’s high school also received a $500 award to improve or implement financial literacy and scholarship programs.

Program Future

Although details are not yet finalized, Iowa Student Loan anticipates offering the scholarship next academic year. More about the Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge: Senior Scholarship is available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org.

Scholarship Recipients

The following students each earned a $2,000 scholarship. Iowa Student Loan will send scholarship funds directly to recipients’ colleges.

Student Name Student School Student Name Student School
Veronica Augustine West High School (Davenport) Brandi Miller Waverly-Shell Rock High School
Aaron Bertini Glenwood High School Kaylee Puttmann MOC-Floyd Valley High School
Jared Davis Hempstead High School Lindsey Reicks Solon High School
Crystal Eppling Le Mars High School Alexandra Reifert Wilton High School
Jason Fisher Nashua-Plainfield High School Bradley Ritter Baxter High School
Rebecca Fuhrmeister Pleasant Valley High School Rebecca Roberson Akron Westfield High School
Leah Gibbs Easton Valley High School Lauren Ronnfeldt Regina High School
Nicole Giesemann Bellevue High School Amber Snyder Wilton High School
Hailey Gross West Central Valley High School Alexandria Sturtz North Polk High School
Jenny Ha Linn-Mar High School Jordan Thomas Southeast Polk High School
Alexander Hall East Mills High School Sarah Todd Columbus Community High School
Ian Kubbe Ottumwa High School Jack Turner Dowling Catholic High School
McKenna Lloyd Xavier High School Cierstynn Welcher Van Buren High School
Lindsay Mahaney Bishop Heelan Catholic High School Carter Wolf Southeast Polk High School
Nathan Maughan Albia High School Sarah Zelle Linn-Mar High School

By: Iowa Student Loan

1 2