A tax credit for college tuition in Illinois


Reporter Kathryn DiGisi

CARBONDALE, Ill. - The price of college tuition continues to rise in Illinois, and that means that many students pack their bags and continue their high education elsewhere.

Representative Dwight Kay is co-sponsoring a new bill to change that by giving families of students a tax break if they choose an Illinois university.

The bill would mean a $1,000 tax credit per year, but there would be some requirements: you must live in Illinois, have a gross family income of less than $150,000 dollars a year, and you cannot be currently receiving MAP grants.

Out of all the universities in the state of Illinois that offer a PhD program, SIU is still the least expensive, but the enrollment numbers continue to go down.

In 1991, SIU's best year, they had a population of a little over 24,000.

Last year's head count was not even 19,000 students.

As university spokesperson Rod Sievers looks back on the enrollment trends over the last few years, he knows something is wrong.

"Tuition goes up all the time, the state cuts back on funding provided by higher ed," said Sievers.

But Representative Dwight Kay says students are not moving away to distance themselves from mom and dad...they're leaving to get a better deal.

"It's cheaper for a resident in Illinois to be a non-resident student at the University of Indiana...and that's just wrong," said Kay.

80% of SIU students already receive some sort of financial aid, but this tax credit is unique.

"This tax credit is a different animal. It would be a tax credit for families that you would work out on your income tax returns when you file in the spring, so it's not something students would apply for," said Sievers.

He wants to see this bill pass and hopes it will encourage Illinois students to stay close to home after high school.

Kay plans to introduce the bill in December, with the idea that applicants would get their first tax credit when they file in April of next year.