Tuition cov­er­age for col­lege stu­dents proposed

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - Staff re­port

The cost of col­lege tuition soon could be af­ford­able for more stu­dents and their fam­i­lies.

Ohio fam­i­lies and stu­dents face the high­est bur­den of stu­dent loan debt in the na­tion, with the Buck­eye State rank­ing 45th na­tion­ally for col­lege af­ford­abil­ity, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease May 17 from the Ohio House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

With col­lege out of reach for too many fam­i­lies and stu­dents, state Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain, in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion May 17 to cover 90 per­cent of the ex­pected fam­ily costs for stu­dents to at­tend col­lege in Ohio.

The Ohio Lets Ev­ery­one Achieve Right Now (LEARN) tax credit would make Ohio the first state to make col­lege truly af­ford­able again for all stu­dents, the re­lease said.

“Our econ­omy in­creas­ingly de­mands a col­lege de­gree, but for many Ohioans, col­lege re­mains un­af­ford­able,” Ramos said. “Sim­ply freez­ing tuition that is al­ready un­af­ford­able isn’t a long-term so­lu­tion to make col­lege more ac­ces­si­ble.

“Fam­i­lies and stu­dents shouldn’t have to mort­gage their fu­ture to pay for col­lege. The Ohio LEARN pro­gram would al­low grad­u­ates to fo­cus on their ca­reers and pur­su­ing their dreams upon grad­u­a­tion — not man­ag­ing decades of crip­pling debt.”

The Ohio LEARN tax credit would cre­ate an in­di­vid­u­al­ized, re­fund­able tax credit cov­er­ing 90 per­cent of a payer’s col­lege costs, or Ex­pected Fam­ily Con­tri­bu­tion, spread out over 10 years, sub­tract­ing aid or schol­ar­ships re­ceived for the to­tal cost of at­ten­dance, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

Stu­dents ul­ti­mately would be re­spon­si­ble for 10 per­cent of their Ex­pected Fam­ily Con­tri­bu­tion, en­sur­ing an eq­ui­table amount of skin in the game for each stu­dent, the re­lease said.

Cur­rently, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties are re­quired by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to re­port their full cost of ed­u­ca­tion.

Each po­ten­tial stu­dent seek­ing aid also must com­plete the Free Ap­pli­ca­tion for Stu­dent Aid. Us­ing ed­u­ca­tion cost and Free Ap­pli­ca­tion for Stu­dent Aid in­for­ma­tion, fed­eral of­fi­cials pro­duce an Ex­pected Fam­ily Con­tri­bu­tion, which rep­re­sents the max­i­mum a fam­ily could po­ten­tially pay for a stu­dent to at­tend col­lege.

The Ex­pected Fam­ily Con­tri­bu­tion fac­tors in a num­ber of vari­ables such as sav­ings, in­come and sib­lings.

A stu­dent’s Ex­pected Fam­ily Con­tri­bu­tion then is used to de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­ity for loans and di­rect aid, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

The Ohio LEARN pro­gram would be avail­able af­ter each tax­able year for stu­dents pay­ing cash, or when loans be­come due for stu­dents fi­nanc­ing their ed­u­ca­tion.

The tax credit would go to the payer.

If the stu­dent pays or fi­nances their ed­u­ca­tion them­selves, they would re­ceive the tax ben­e­fit.

If par­ents pay, they will re­ceive the ben­e­fit un­der the pro­gram, the re­lease said.

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