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Textbook bailout - New stimulus bill saves students cash
Kylie Tielke
Antelope Staff

During a time of financial instability among many in the U.S., including college students, the Obama administration shed some light for students involving the increasing expense of college textbooks.

Just recently, the Obama administration introduced a new stimulus bill directed toward college students called the Textbook Tax Credit, which is part of the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The tax credit was introduced for 2009 and 2010 to help students cover general college expenses. According to the United States Department of Treasury, the tax credit is a refundable credit for undergraduate college education expenses that will reimburse students up to 100 percent of the cost of required textbooks and related materials.

“With the rising costs of a higher education, the American Opportunity Tax Credit is a positive step towards helping many American’s afford college,” Len Fangmeyer, manager of The College Store said.

According to an article in the Washington Post, students annually spend anywhere from $700 to $1,100 on textbooks, which is an estimated $3.6 billion per year.

“Textbook costs have risen at significant rates due to many publisher merchandising tactics. We applaud the government for including required course materials as an eligible deduction with the American Opportunity Tax Credit,” Fangmeyer said.

The tax credit, according to the United States Department of Treasury, expanded and renamed the existing Hope Credit, which did not cover textbooks, and can be claimed by students for tuition and certain fees students pay for higher education. For each student, the credit will provide up to $2,500 in tax credit for educational expenses with 40 percent of the credit refundable.

According to Barbara Johnson, vice chancellor for business and finance, the maximum refund is $1,000, and the refund dollars can be used for future book purchases or other expenses.

“In the grand scheme of things, I realize that textbooks and materials for courses are pricey. All students need to do is keep their receipts, it’s that simple,” Johnson said.

The tax credit applies to textbooks and all related expenses including any other materials such as lab supplies, software and other course materials that students need to be successful within their course.

“UNK students are eligible for the tax credit. Qualifications for students or their parents are based on income levels, provided they have the documentation to prove that they incurred the eligible expenses,” Johnson said.
 “This just allows for more students to participate in the program— therefore making higher education more affordable for more people,” Fangmeyer said.

According to Johnson, students, parents or guardians will file for their federal income tax just like normal and include the appropriate records, which in this case would be the receipts for course materials. After filing, students will be refunded for any extra expenses they had throughout the year.

“Most importantly, we strongly encourage our students to take advantage of this tax credit. Students, parents or guardians do not have to do anything differently than they already are doing except for simply keeping their receipts, it’s really that simple,” Johnson said.

For more information about the American Opportunity Tax Credit stimulus plan visit www.textbookaid.org.

How does the Textbook Tax Credit work for you?

1.  Buy your books.
2.  Keep your receipts.
3.  Check textbookaid.org to see if you're eligible (if you make less than $80,000 in a year, you probably are.)
4.  File a tax return and get money back for your books and other course materials.

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