State Treasurer Fitzgerald Reminds Teachers to Register for Free Pencils

Teachers must submit their requests for pencils before the April 1st deadline

DES MOINES, IA (01/19/2010)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald wants every second and third grade teacher in the state to take advantage of the free pencils being offered through Prepare for the Basics. This no-cost program, which provides pencils for students to use during the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, supplied almost 13,500 during the 2008-09 school year. "Any teacher interested in receiving free pencils for their class have until April 1st to submit their requests," stated Fitzgerald. "I really hope all teachers take advantage of this program. It is a small gesture of appreciation for all that they do."

The Prepare for the Basics program will also provide information about College Savings Iowa, the state's 529 plan designed to give families an affordable way to save money for college. "Families who begin saving early are better prepared to meet the educational needs of their children. Any little bit that can be saved now will offset what has to be borrowed in the future," stated Fitzgerald.

College Savings Iowa lets anyone – parents, grandparents, friends and relatives – invest for college on behalf of a child. Iowa taxpayers can deduct up to $2,811 in contributions per beneficiary account from their adjusted gross income in 2010.* Investors do not need to be a state resident and can withdraw their investment tax-free to pay for qualified higher education expenses including tuition, books, supplies and room and board at any eligible college, university, community college or accredited technical training school in the United States or abroad.**

Teachers who would like to take part in the Prepare for the Basics program can register online by visiting and clicking on the financial literacy tab. Materials should be requested at least two weeks prior to testing to ensure timely arrival, and will be delivered directly to the participating schools. Supplies are limited, so early registration is advised. For more information about College Savings Iowa, go to or call 1-888-672-9116.

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

** Earnings on non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state income taxes. The availability of tax or other benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.