Pols tout college savings bill

By Kelsey Durham

In an effort to combat what many middle-class families say is a becoming a growing financial burden, two Queens lawmakers have written legislation that would reduce the cost of applying for college.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) and state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) announced in Douglaston Tuesday their collaboration on a bill that would provide families with a $500 tax credit per year for each child applying to higher education institutions. The credit is aimed at helping balance the cost of college preparation that can include admissions tests, applications and college visits.

Israel introduced the bill in early 2013 on the federal level, but with the legislation having trouble moving in Congress, Rozic wrote a word-for-word version of the bill that she plans to introduce into the Assembly during the next session.

“There’s a lot of talk in our country about student loan debt and the high cost of going to college, but there’s not enough talk about just preparing to go to college,” Israel said. “This will accompany my federal legislation to provide tax credits.”

Israel said many families can face costs upward of $2,500 just from applying to one college, including ACT and SAT tests, AP courses in high school and the cost of visiting schools and paying for gas and hotel rooms to do so.

He and Rozic said the tax credits take some of the burden off students of any age applying to colleges and give them more opportunities to reach out, especially to private universities.

“College affordability is an issue working- and middle-class families continue to struggle with every year,” Rozic said. “The application process has become a financial burden and this will not only provide financial relief, but will open up and give kids more options to apply for more schools.”

Grace Yoon, executive director of the Korean American Family Service Center, said she and her organization strongly support the legislation put forth by Israel and Rozic and said it would make a difference in helping students further their education.

“We strongly believe in the values of higher education, but we face challenges,” Yoon said. “I sincerely support this bill and I think it just makes sense.”

Israel said there are no stipulations regarding who can receive the tax credits and said college applications of any age are eligible to receive the money, not just students leaving high school.

“College is essential to success and we should be supporting that success,” he said.

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurh‌am@cn‌gloca‌l.com.

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