A press release from State Rep. Barb Wheeler:
House Republicans unveil college affordability package
Naperville– State Representatives Darlene Senger (R-Naperville), Adam Brown (R-Champaign), Barb Wheeler (R-Fox Lake), and Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) today joined House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) in unveiling a package of legislation designed to make college more affordable for middle-class Illinoisans.
“At a time when the cost of college has never been greater, it is important to look for ways to help students and families with the burden of rising tuition,” said Senger. “By investing in our students, we are investing in the future of our communities.”
“In this day and age, a college degree is almost a necessity for anyone seeking to join the job market,” Brown said. “We should be doing all we can to help middle-class families afford the cost of higher education.”
“I am a mother of five, my oldest will be starting college in the following year,” said Wheeler. “I understand the strain these costs can have on a family. While I will do anything to make sure my children have the best I can possibly give them, I have no idea what my finances will look like once all five have gone through college. Something needs to be done to ensure our children’s success while also not crippling everyday working families.”
The House Republicans’ plan would create a $1000 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 $1000, 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 a state administered College Savings Pool account or the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Trust Fund. Right now, private-sector 529 programs, including programs operated by respected financial institutions that are based outside of Illinois, are not eligible for this upfront deduction.
As a result, many prudent Illinois families who are participating in a 529 program and saving for the future are not eligible under current Illinois law for this upfront Illinois individual income tax deduction.
The House Republicans proposal will make this upfront Illinois individual income tax deduction accessible to all families who are saving money under the umbrella of an approved 529 savings program for up to $10,000 of annual contributions made by a taxpayer.
“Rising tuition costs in Illinois have led to a situation where college is now out of reach for many Illinois residents,” said Representative Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn), a former teacher and school guidance counselor. “If approved, this bill will help many students receive an affordable college education so they can enhance their career opportunities.”
“My wife and I were both proud graduates of the University of Illinois and we would like our children to go there as well if they so choose, however the primary factor for many young Illinoisans today is that they cannot afford our state schools,” said Sandack. “For the first time 25 percent of Illinois College Students chose a university outside of Illinois. We have to do something before these students no longer even give our state school a look, because it is so far out of the average working family’s price range. ”
“We’ve seen too many young people not able to achieve their full potential because we haven’t made educational opportunities available to them,” Cross said. “Preparing young people for the workforce of tomorrow is key to building a stronger Illinois.”