Tax credit will lighten burden for freshmen

Coralie Carlson

Government tax breaks could pick up nearly half of the tuition tab for entering University freshmen next fall.
The House DFL Caucus proposed a $500 tax credit Monday for first-year students attending any college or university in Minnesota, piggybacking a new $1,500 tax credit from the federal government.
“Grade 13” could offset skyrocketing tuition costs for students enrolling in college immediately after high school.
“I think any way of providing assistance to students and their families is a good investment for society to make,” said Peter Zetterberg, University director of the Office of Planning and Analysis.
In 1997 dollars, College of Liberal Arts tuition rose 58 percent from 1988 to 1997. Now the average tuition cost for undergraduates in CLA is $4,268 annually. The college admits the largest number of University freshmen.
Dan Cramer, the House Speaker’s executive assistant, said lawmakers heard many complaints from families about the rising cost of higher education. “This is an effort to address their concern,” he said.
CLA freshman Melissa Kuperus depends on scholarships, grants and loans to pay her tuition. Kuperus said the tax credit would help students from single-parent families like herself.
“I wish it would have been an option for me,” she said, “It’s hard to come up with the tuition money every quarter.”
The tax credit proposal will be presented to the House Higher Education committee today as part of the supplemental budget.
Meanwhile, Gov. Arne Carlson on Tuesday awarded $850,000 in seed money to the University to develop “lab schools” in Duluth and the Twin Cities. The University-sponsored schools would give students from urban areas hands-on learning experiences.
In all, Carlson allotted $2.5 million through the Department of Children, Families and Learning to six universities for such programs.