Making Sense of the Stimulus Bill & College Affordability… Phew!
President Barack Obama signed the economic stimulus bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) into law this week. Details are still a little unclear but we do know that this new law provides:
- An increase in the maximum Federal Pell Grant
- An enhanced Hope Scholarship tax credit for tuition and other expenses - including textbooks
- Additional funding for the Federal Work Study program
- An expanded definition of qualified higher education expenses for 529 plan distributions
What this means is that Pell eligible students will receive a higher Pell Grant amount than in previous years. The amount of the maximum Pell Grant has not yet been finalized. We are anxiously waiting for this figure to come out soon!
Students at RIT will continue to have opportunities for part-time employment through the Federal Work Study Program as well as employment opportunities through RIT http://www.rit.edu/emcs/seo/. Part-time employment is a great way for RIT students to earn money for their day-to-day expenses. It’s also a great way to gain work experience. My work experience as a work-study student in the Career and Placement Office at SUNY Plattsburgh got me started in the field of higher education!
Families will also have an enhanced tax credit for education expenses in 2009. The maximum tax credit is expected to be $2,500, of which 40% is refundable. And, the purchase of a computer and related equipment for college will be considered qualified higher education expenses for 529 plan distributions.
Overall, I see the provisions as positive for families!