Baucus Brings MSU President Before Senate to Talk Tax Cuts for Higher Education
Senator Says Todays Students are Tomorrows Job Creators
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus invited Montana State University President Waded Cruzado to testify before his Senate Finance Committee today on ways Congress can make tax cuts work better for Montana families struggling to keep up with the rising cost of higher education.
"Today's students are tomorrow's innovators, small business owners and employers. So when rising tuition costs keep families from affording college, it hurts our whole economy. We have a responsibly to give our future job creators all the tools they need to succeed, and giving working families tax breaks to send their kids to college is part of that effort," Baucus said.
Baucus noted that while education is key to American competitiveness and economic success, the United States has fallen to 16th in the word for graduation rates among 25-34 year-olds.
President Cruzado told the committee how important tax cuts are for MSU to help Montana students and families afford college.
"Even in this day, many of our students are the first in their family to attend college. Unfortunately, we see that it is becoming increasingly difficult for students and their families to pay for their education," Cruzado told the committee. "Federal financial aid and tax codes related to higher education are crucial to students and their families as they confront serious challenges."
Tax cuts can help Montana students afford college and land good-paying jobs
ü Nearly 2/3 of jobs openings in the next decade will require some higher education. But, over the past two decades, the price of higher education has grown four times faster than inflation.
ü In 2009, taxpayers nationwide claimed almost $30 billion in tax cuts to help them afford college - equal to about 22 percent of the assistance received through Federal grants and loan assistance.
ü That same year, Baucus led passage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit to give education tax cuts to 4.8 million more students and families.
ü In Montana, this helped students and families claim nearly $105 million in tax credits and deductions in 2010 to help pay for college.
Complexity makes it difficult for Montana families to take full advantage
While education tax credits are working to help Montana students afford college, Baucus also pointed out that the incredible complexity in applying for these credits can prevent families and students from taking full advantage.
Baucus noted that there are eight separate tax provisions families have to navigate for higher education, and each provision works differently. He pointed to the 87 page guide from the IRS for using education tax credits and joked, "I guess the IRS expects every student wants to major in accounting."
Baucus cited Kelly McInerney, a CPA in Fairfield, Montana. "Kelly is a mother of four college-age kids and knows firsthand how complicated these tax benefits can be," Baucus said. "Kelly says many families she works with do not realize they can claim tax credits for tuition paid for with student loans. As a result, they get less help than they are eligible for. This can make the difference between being able to send their kids to college or not."
Last year, Baucus successfully led the fight to protect funding for Pell Grants, which support 20,000 Montana students. Today's hearing is part of a series of hearings Baucus is holding in his Finance Committee to look at ways simple, effective tax cuts can help create jobs and grow the economy.
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