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Hot-Line Announced: Procedures Modified to Help Students Earn Hope Tax Credit

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s interim chief operating officer announced today that the College has modified billing procedures to maximize students’ eligibility for the Hope Tax Credit, which takes effect Jan. 1, 1998.

The tax credit, which applies for expenses paid after Dec. 31, 1997, is available to eligible students during their first two years of postsecondary education. The non-refundable credit covers the first $1,000 of tuition and fees and 50 percent of the second $1,000 during the period of qualification. To be eligible, students must be enrolled, at least half time, in a degree, certificate or other program leading to a recognized educational credential.

Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour said letters have been mailed to all students eligible for enrollment in the spring 1998 semester, which opens in January. The letter provides instructions specific to each individual student’s situation − those who have already paid their bills, those who have not yet paid, and those who are paying tuition with the assistance of financial aid.

“The College does not determine eligibility for the tax credit,” Dr. Gilmour stated, “but we do feel it’s important that our process maximize the student’s or parent’s potential to claim the credit when they file their federal income tax forms in April.”

To help in this regard, Penn College has established two hot-line numbers that will be in effect during the Dec. 12-18 billing period: (570) 326-3761, ext. 7307 and (570) 326-3761, ext. 7319. Students and parents who have questions may call during the hours of 10 a.m.-2 p.m., when staff will be available to answer questions. The College will close for the holiday season at 2 p.m. Dec. 19; so it is important that calls be placed between Friday, Dec. 12, and Thursday, Dec. 18.

Dr. Gilmour noted that the Dec. 15 due date for spring bills remains unchanged; however no penalty will be assessed before noon Monday, Jan. 5. Class schedules will be held and no late fees will be assessed until that time.

The Hope Tax Credit is available for two tax years to students who have not completed the first two years of postsecondary education. For students receiving Pell grants or other financial aid, the amount of tuition and fees covered by the tax credit is reduced by the amount of grant and scholarship aid received. Students attending less than half time are not eligible for the tax credit.

The Clinton Administration made the tax credit the centerpiece of its 1997 education/tax-cut package, vowing to make the first two years of college the new standard for U.S. students. It is one of a series of measures aimed at making a college education affordable to the majority of low- and middle-income citizens.

Dr. Gilmour believes the tax credit has the potential to boost enrollment at Penn College and other U.S. colleges and universities.

“President Clinton’s goal was to make the 13th and 14th year of education available to every student in America. As the state’s premier technical college, offering over 75 two-year associate degree and certificate majors and over 20 bachelor of science degree majors, Pennsylvania College of Technology certainly is positioned to benefit from such a program. We hope it will encourage those who had been concerned about cost to take another look at the opportunities we can afford them.”

Annual tuition and fees for Pennsylvania residents attending Penn College average $6,800. More than 80 percent of Penn College students receive some form of financial aid. In recent years, Penn College students have received a total of more than $25 million in aid per year. College officials estimate that 75 of the student body in the coming semester may be eligible for the Hope Tax Credit.

There are restrictions in place limiting eligibility for the program. Students who have been convicted of a felony for the possession or distribution of a controlled substance are ineligible. Individual filers who earn more than $50,000 and joint filers with adjusted gross income exceeding $100,000 also do not qualify.

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