SA hosts college affordability conference Wed.

State Rep. Robert Pritchard

State Rep. Robert Pritchard

NIU’s Student Association will welcome several Republicans from the Illinois House of Representatives to campus Wednesday morning.

The GOP state lawmakers will conduct a news conference at 10 a.m. in the Sky Room of the Holmes Student Center to promote a package of bills that aim to provide college affordability options.

Legislators include Reps. Bob Pritchard, Tom Cross, Tom Demmer, Mike Fortner, Kay Hatcher, Joe Sosnowski and Mike Tryon.

Pritchard is NIU’s representative in Springfield. Fortner is an associate professor in the NIU Department of Physics. Sosnowski is an NIU alum.

The plan would create a $1,000 tax credit to help middle class families pay for college expenses at an Illinois accredited school. The credit would accrue for each semester that the eligible student is supported by the eligible taxpayer.

To be eligible for the credit, the family or the student must have the following status:

  • attend a MAP-approved Illinois institution on at least a half-time basis with tuition and fees greater than $1,000;
  • be an Illinois resident and a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; and
  • the family must have an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. Those already receiving Illinois MAP grants would not be eligible.

This package will also include legislation that will “unlock” the limited tax deduction rights currently granted to Illinoisans who are saving for their children’s college education.

Under current Illinois law, this “upfront” deduction is only offered to contributors in state-administered College Savings Pool account or the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Trust Fund. Currently, private-sector 529 programs, including programs operated by respected financial institutions that are based outside of Illinois, are not eligible for this upfront deduction.

The proposal would start with tax years ending on or after Dec. 31, 2013. If enacted, tax returns due April 15, 2014, will be able to claim the credit.

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