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Student Loans – Stimulus Plan Gives Students Some HOPE

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In addition to aiding the unemployed, the stimulus package provides added relief for students. However, student loan limits will remain the same which could end up preventing students in need from going to college. There were, however, some positives in the plan.Hope Scholarship Tax Credit – Increased to $2,500 100% of qualified tuition and related expenses of up to $2,000 can be claimed as a tax credit, resulting in a total tax credit of $2,500. This credit can be claimed during the first 4 years of college; it use to be the first 2 years.What Items Can I Claim as a Tax Credit? Tuition and fees & now course materials for tuition and feesWho Qualifies? Single – phased out if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is greater than $80,000 Married – phased out if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is greater than $160,000What if I owe very little in taxes, can I still claim a tax credit? You can receive a tax refund for up to 40% of the creditPell Grant Funding Increased The federal government increased funding for Pell Grants to $5,350 in 2009-10 and $5,550 in 2010/11 from $4,731. The grants which don’t have to be repaid are designed for the lowest income students.More options with 529 Savings Plans For those that don’t know, a 529 savings plan is a tax-free college savings account sponsored by a particular state or group of states and is only allowed to be used for college expenses. But now you can use your 529 savings plan to buy computers and other technology related items for your college education.Federal Stafford & Perkins Loan Limits are NOT Increased Despite the House of Representatives and the Senate requesting loan limits to be increased, the final bill did not include this much needed amendment. With lenders continuing to reduce or scrap their private student loan programs, students in need are left with few options to obtain credit for college.

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