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“Hope” College Tax Credit Expansion Would Reach 72,000 KY Students

January 22, 2009

Louisville, KY – When unemployment is high and the economy is down, many Kentuckians will think about heading back to school. And, at least 72,000 could soon be eligible for a tax credit to help defray the costs of higher education, according to a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The U.S. House version of the economic rescue package includes expanding the Hope Credit for college, making it partially refundable and allowing low- and middle-income families to apply.

Study author Chye-Ching Huang says that's the right thing to do for helping Kentuckians weather the economic storm.

"People will want to be making themselves more employable at a time when work is hard to find. This is also at a time when colleges, community colleges, and private universities are raising fees."

The Hope Credit was originally proposed as a way to help families keep up with double-digit tuition increases at colleges, claims Huang, but they were only available to high-income families. This proposal gets the goal on track, she adds.

"Absolutely. We want to make these credits do what they were designed to do in the first place, which is encourage college enrollment."

Opponents of expanding the tax credit say there are already low- and middle-income family college assistance programs in place, like Pell Grants and work study.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY