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Durbin: tuition tax credits unclaimed

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Dick Durbin

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin reminds families to use the federal tax credit for tuition. He spoke at a news conference Sunday with UIC students, including new student trustee Kenneth Thomas, left.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

A federal tax credit for college tuition, intended to help students pursue dreams of higher education in financially stressed times, has been claimed by fewer than half of eligible Illinois families, costing them more than $1 billion, said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin at a news conference on campus Sunday.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which allows families to receive a tax credit of up to $2,500 per student on their 2009 and 2010 tax returns, was originally part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. President Barack Obama signed a two-year extension of the tax credit in December.

Only 38 percent of eligible Illinois taxpayers claimed the credit last year, but it’s not too late to claim the credit for 2009 or 2010, Durbin said at the news conference in Student Center East.

“A college education provides opportunities for a better job, a better profession, a more fulfilling life,” said Illinois’ senior senator.

“This tax credit is especially beneficial to working families.”

Durbin was joined by several UIC students who spoke about the importance of financial assistance in pursing their dreams of a college education.

Kelly Wells, a freshman whose goal is to become a physician, said she is working two jobs to help finance her education.

“Without this assistance I would not have the opportunity to be at UIC,” she said.

Lucy Salinas, a sophomore who is the first in her family to attend college, thanked Durbin for helping to raise awareness of the tax credit, which will help her and her sister, Juridia, a freshman, to pursue their educations.

Tim Opgenorth, director of the Office of Financial Aid, said the university sends tax credit forms to families, discusses the tax credit in counseling sessions, and sent e-mail to help raise awareness of the program among eligible UIC students.

Durbin was introduced by University President Michael Hogan, who praised the senator for his support of education and for his “longtime efforts to open doors of opportunity” for students in Illinois and around the nation.

At the news conference, L-R: Donnette Holloway, Kenneth Thomas, Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, President Michael Hogan, Sen. Dick Durbin, Lucy and Juridia Salinas, Ajay Rao and Kelly Wells.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Dick Durbin

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