Mo. lawmaker proposes bill to help working college students

Mo. lawmaker proposes bill to help working college students
On average, student debt in the U.S. was nearly $23,000 in 2018. (Source: Pexels/stock image)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFVS) - Congressman Jason Smith introduced House Bill 4849, known as the Upward Mobility Enhancement Act, on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

The measure aims to help students who are employed and attending afford college tuition.

If approved, HB 4849 would allow employed students to accept up to $11,500 a year in tax-free education assistance from their employer.

According to Rep. Smith, this same tax benefit was last authorized in 1986.

Under current law, students are only allowed to claim up to $5,250 a year.

The approval of HB 4898 would then amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which would reinstate the exclusion for educational assistance programs.

Rep. Smith believes this bill is a much-needed fix for students trying to work their way through school.

“Many students can’t afford to go to school without working at the same time and this legislation will help them stay out of debt while pursuing their education,” said Smith.

According to a study, the college class of 2018 nationwide owed an average of $29,200, which is a two percent increase from the average of $28,650 in 2017.

The following table shows the 2018 averages for Heartland states:

State Average Debt Percentage of students with college debt
Arkansas $26,579 53%
Illinois $29,855 22%
Kentucky $28,435 64%
Missouri $29,224 58%
Tennessee $26,838 55%

If the tax benefit proposal was tied to general inflation, Rep. Smith’s office said today’s students would be eligible for more than $12,000 in employer-based educational assistance.

Congressman Danny Davis, a democrat from Illinois, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

HB 4898 has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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