January 23,2001

Grassley Works to Make College Education More Affordable Via Tax Code

Washington - Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, today announced two legislative steps to make higher education more affordable via the tax code.

"Technical expertise and college degrees are at a premium in today's super-charged workplaces," Grassley said. "The tax code shouldn't get in the way of anybody learning what they need to get ahead and to stay ahead."

Grassley is working with Sen. Max Baucus, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, on two pieces of legislation:

(1) A bill to make student loan interest permanently deductible.

Now, the deductibility of student loan interest is limited to 60 payments. Grassley has worked to restore the deduction since Congress eliminated it in 1986. In 1997, he secured the restoration of the deduction with the 60-payment limit.

Making the deduction permanent will ease the debt burden of all students, but it especially will help low-income students who must borrow large amounts to attend college, Grassley said.

"Loans are a part of life for most college students," Grassley said. "A lighter debt load will make that life easier. It will help encourage students to get the highest level of education they can."

Grassley plans to introduce his bill today with Baucus as an original co-sponsor.

(2) A measure to make permanent the tax-free status of the tuition that employees receive from their employers.

Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code allows public or private employers to provide up to $5,250 per year to each of their employees in tax-free reimbursement for tuition, books and fees for job or non-job related education. The provision will expire unless it is extended.

Grassley said Section 127 is a purely private-sector initiative and the one vehicle that encourages employer investment and assistance in providing educational assistance to its workers. Baucus planned to introduce the bill late Monday, with Grassley as an original co-sponsor.