Tuition break

By By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

Low-income students could anticipate a tax break from the state thanks to this year’s legislative session.

Sponsored by Sen. Gregory Bell, R-Davis County, Senate Bill 62 passed Monday morning in the Senate Education Committee.

If SB 62 passes, it would provide students earning an income of fewer than $30,000 a year a refundable tax credit that would be used to pay for tuition and mandatory fees.

Some legislators have concerns with the rise of tuition in the state and have been looking for ways to ease students’ college tuition burden.

Bell said there is a decrease in students receiving Pell Grants because of federal reform and an increase in student sensitivity to accumulating debt. He said this is part of the underlying reasons behind the lagging enrollment in institutions of higher education.

“This tuition problem is really affecting the quality of our students,” said Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake. “It is critical that we look at any way that we can help these students achieve.”

The bill was created to provide a refundable credit for students, but would not allow them to “double dip” and take additional advantages of the HOPE and Lifetime Learning deductions–credits provided by the federal government.

The $300 credit would be provided on an annual basis and is currently designed to serve approximately 30,000 of the 100,000 students in the state who are considered “the most needy,” Bell said.

Other students who do not qualify for the credit won’t be picking up the slack for those who can’t afford it, Bell said. The credit would be provided from taxpayers at large and would cost approximately $9 million.

“What I am trying to do is get kids to come to college,” Bell said. “We need to get more kids to attend college.”