LETTERS: Tax-cut plan in Congress would drive up college costs

SHARE LETTERS: Tax-cut plan in Congress would drive up college costs
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(Leisa Thompson/The Ann Arbor News via AP, File)

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Most college students struggle to pay for higher education, and their costs would go up even further under the tax plan recently proposed by Republicans in Congress. The cuts would hit different categories of students in different ways.

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First, the proposal would reduce the tax credits students can claim on their income tax returns for educational expenses. For example, it allows students to take a full tax credit only for their first four years, and at a reduced level for the fifth, before it ends. This move will especially hurt graduate students, who have already completed and paid for (or contracted to pay for) four years, and older and non-traditional students, who typically attend college on and off and may have exhausted their four years.

The second way in which the proposed tax cuts harm students is by eliminating the income tax deduction for interest paid on student loans. Many students graduate, get jobs and shoulder the task of paying back their loans. Deducting interest helps them save money for a home, a family or other pursuits that contribute to the common good. Why would we want to hinder them as they are achieving their dreams?

Third, most universities, National Louis University included, rely on generous donors to fund scholarships and bridge the many costs tuition dollars do not cover. The proposed tax plan has a chilling effect on donors. It doubles the standard income tax deduction, and reduces the number of Americans who will itemize their deductions from 30 percent to about 5 percent, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Without those itemized deductions, donors have less incentive to give, and the National Council of Nonprofits estimates giving could fall by $13 billion annually. That will really impact the funding of universities like ours.

We urge Congress to revise this tax proposal and restore provisions that benefit higher education. It would be an investment in America’s human capital, which would grow our economy in years to come.

Marty Mickey, vice president, Finance, National Louis University

Talking to Santa

Dan Mihalopoulos’s request for charitable contributions is timely, but many old timers recall when the Sun-Times offered kids the opportunity to speak directly to Santa Claus. In the late 1950s, his phone number was published at the beginning of the holiday season, and I was one of several lucky college students hired to answer calls.

Our instructions were to 1) sound “jolly,” and never use profanity; 2) never promise a specific gift; kids were advised to discuss desires with parents; 3) ask for names; there was an army of “Kathys,” and “Michael” was the most popular boys’ name. Unisexual names sometimes caused problems: Heaven help the Santa who mistakenly told 3-year-old “Jackie” to be a good little boy! (“I’m a girl,” would say a tiny, tearful, and deeply disappointed voice; or one who told “Pat” to be a good little girl (“I’m a boy!” would an outraged voice scream).

My unique problem was my Southern accent that I hadn’t yet lost. “You don’t sound like you’re from the North Pole,” a perceptive but playful parent would tell me.

Hosea L. Martin, Bronzeville

Armistice Day

Armistice Day, Nov. 11, was originally a day to recognize the ugliness of war and vow never again to have war. Its meaning, like many things in the U.S., has been changed. Now 11/11 is called “Veterans Day,” a day to glorify the “heroes” who have been in the military.

I’m an Army infantry veteran of the war against the people of Vietnam. I’m not a “hero” and I cringe when people say “thank you for your service.” Those in the military are used as pawns in the rich man’s game of conquest. We never hear that because those in power need the military to carry out their diabolical plans.

On Saturday, look up Armistice Day and watch the documentary “Untold History of the United States.” Recognize the day as it was intended. No matter how hard those in power try, war and its after-effects are ugly, and it robs us of our humanity and resources. For me, Nov. 11 is, and always will be, Armistice Day.

Arnold Stieber, Kenwood

Appalling

As an engaged citizen, I was disgusted to read Mark Brown’s article “A Little Advice: Nobody Cares What You Dreamed Last Night” (Nov. 5, 2017). I frequently phone and write to my state and federal representatives about legislative issues. I try to convey accurate information to support my opinions. So it was appalling to read how votes that affect the lives of Illinois citizens might hinge on such adolescent text exchanges as those between state Sen. Ira Silverstein and Denise Rotheimer. While Silverstein’s leading remarks quoted by Brown are inappropriate, Rotheimer did little to shut him down. Is that what it takes to pass legislation?

Clarice Hearne, Joliet


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