New College Planning Resource for Parents

Free email service provides timely and grade-specific information about planning for training and education after high school

Feb. 25, 2020

A new resource for parents of students in eighth through 12th grades launched in early January. Iowa Student Loan® developed Student Planning Pointers for Parents, a twice-monthly email service, as an expansion to the free resources and tools it offers to families as part of its nonprofit mission.

Known as SP3, the service is available to parents who would like to help their students proactively prepare for postsecondary education and training. Parents and guardians can register each of their students’ grade levels for free at to receive seasonal and grade-specific information via email.

"This service empowers parents with the information they need to engage in planning with their students," said Steve McCullough, CEO at Iowa Student Loan. "Studies show that students with engaged parents are much more successful in high school and college."

Parents who respond to the information with answers to a brief survey are also entered into a quarterly drawing for one of 40 deposits of $250 into 529 college savings accounts.

School counselors are becoming familiar with the tool. "SP3 equips parents with just-in-time information to support their child’s journey in postsecondary planning," said Jill Urich, director of college and career readiness for the Ankeny Community School District. "This helpful information ranges from informal talking points for dinner table conversation to more strategic, proactive action steps."

"As a parent, I’m more confident navigating unchartered territory in helping our daughter prepare for college," Urich continued. "As a school administrator, I see direct alignment with the important work of our school counselors."

Sheryl Cline, Linn-Mar school counselor and president of the Iowa School Counselor Association, also noted the connection between families using the resource and the work of school counselors. "SP3 helps school counselors provide our students and families with relevant, timely information regarding the postsecondary planning process," she said. "Given that Iowa Student Loan is a respected partner in the postsecondary process, I know that I can trust the information that is shared with families in these newsletters."

Topics cover tips and tools for students who plan to continue their education at a traditional college as well as those who are considering career-oriented training. Parents with students in eighth and ninth grades receive information on preparing for and succeeding in high school, setting career goals, and other topics to start students on an appropriate path. Parents of older high school students will learn about preparing for college entrance exams, how to file for financial aid, choosing appropriate educational programs and more.

Content for the resource is heavily based on the knowledge Iowa Student Loan has developed in 40 years of helping Iowa students and families pay for college and other postsecondary education. Besides offering free tools and resources for students and families online at, Iowa Student Loan reinvests any funds not needed for operating expenses and required reserves into competitively priced loan products and community initiatives.

Families interested in the resource should start at Supporting partners of the service are College Savings Iowa, the Iowa College Access Network, the Iowa School Counselor Association and Strada Education Network.

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Christopher Weishaar, Digital PR Specialist, (515) 273-7102,