Colleges seek repeal of tax credit

BY LOUIE MEIZLISH
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 10, 2001

Administrators and student leaders at Michigan colleges are pressuring state lawmakers to repeal the tuition tax credit, an effort that, if successful, could save in-state University students about $80 and $200 for out-of-state students.

Executives and student body presidents of each of the state"s 15 public universities, including University of Michigan President Lee Bollinger and Michigan Student Assembly President Matt Nolan, have signed statements urging the Legislature to repeal the tax credit.

Tonight MSA is expected to pass a resolution supporting a repeal of the tax credit.

The resolution"s sponsors argue that a repeal would allow the University to substantially lower tuition for the current academic year. By repealing the tax credit, the state would be able to reallocate money that is currently earmarked to fund the program into the universities" budgets.

"If the tuition tax credit is repealed, every single student at the University of Michigan will feel its effect by lower tuition," said MSA President Matt Nolan, one of the resolution"s sponsors.

If the resolution passes, MSA will send letters to all state senators and representatives urging them to vote for a repeal of the 6-year-old tax credit. In addition, MSA will send a campuswide e-mail to students telling them how to contact their legislators to do the same.

The tuition tax credit is offered to the families of students attending Michigan colleges in order to keep their tuition increases below the rate of inflation, allowing them to claim a credit on 8 percent of their tuition fees, up to a maximum of $375.

Last year, the only college whose students could take advantage of the program was Lake Superior State University. This year no students were eligible to take advantage of the program, although students at some community college and private schools were able to claim a credit.

The Presidents Council of the State Universities of Michigan has been working over the last few weeks to garner support for a repeal of the credit.

Sen. John Schwarz (R-Battle Creek), sponsor of legislation to repeal the credit, said he believes 20 senators will vote to repeal the tax credit, which is the minimum number required for the bill to pass. He expects the bill to be brought to the Senate floor about a week from now.

Schwarz said he was delighted that MSA is considering the resolution. The University raised tuition this year by 6.5 percent, the highest increase in recent years but the lowest increase among the state"s other public universities.

However, Schwarz acknowledged that he does not know whether he has enough votes in the 110-member House of Representatives to support a repeal.