Unfortunately, shrinking household budgets, soaring federal deficits and funding streams run dry are jeopardizing this support system. One of the biggest problems is the temporary and confusing nature of our tax code, coupled with an antiquated Pell grant funding mechanism which can’t keep up with the current level of student need.
To address this uncertainty and confusion, we introduced legislation in June to condense, streamline and make permanent one tax incentive for higher education. Under our proposal, students or parents will no longer need to navigate a maze of different temporary tax provisions worth varying amounts and alternative income thresholds to determine what they qualify for. Instead our solution offers one credit for higher education for those most in need. Our credit is designed specifically for those who are within 500 percent and below of the poverty level and gets rid of specific stimulus “add-ons” our country can no longer afford.
As a result our proposal actually saves taxpayer money in the long run.
Of equal need is the looming Pell grant shortfall which we are projected to face starting in 2015. Without making additional changes to eligibility requirements or reducing benefits, additional funds will be needed to sustain current policy when it comes to funding Pell grants. Our legislation encourages Congress to use some of the savings in our proposal and direct them back into that Pell grant funding shortfall.
Additionally, this proposal meets the 21st century realities that not all American’s attend college, and therefore shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for those that do. We do this by allowing those who seek state approved job skills training instead of college, access to this important incentive as well.
Other savings in our proposal can be found by inserting stronger protections to ensure that taxpayers claiming this credit actually attended an eligible university, were at least part time students, and haven’t exceeded credit limitations. All this information is easily obtainable if agencies such as the Treasury Department communicate better with the Department of Education and share existing databases. These additional savings can be directed towards lowering our deficit and helping reduce the tax burden on Americans through tax reform. Efforts to reform our tax code have been a focus of both of ours since arriving in Congress.
Simply put, our current tax code is a cumbersome overbearance to hard working Americans. Its confusion and complexity devour more resources of hardworking taxpayers each and every year. Proposals such as ours will help simplify our complicated tax code and alleviate some of the burden, while still providing millions of Americans access to higher education and important job skills training.
Ultimately this proposal will continue to provide the right assistance to those who are truly in need and help them realize their own aspirations to attend the college or university of their dreams.
Rubio serves Florida in the Senate since 2010. He sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation, the Foreign Relations, the Intelligence, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees. Schock represents Illinois' 18th congressional district in the House of Representatives, serving since 2009. he sits on the Ways and Means and the House Administration committees.