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College tax credit money out there but unclaimed

PLATTSBURGH - Students who attend college could be eligible for a major tax credit, according to U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Schumer paid a visit to the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Feb. 21 where he informed a group of students and local officials that a federal college tuition tax credit law he sponsored is available to middle class income families making less than $160,000 a year. The credit, said Schumer, gives students - or parents claiming their children on their tax returns - $1 back on their taxes for every $1 spent on tuition, up to $2,500 per year.

However, approximately 43 percent of those eligible for the credit actually claim it, said the senator, adding he was astonished when he first learned of the figure.

"It's as if there was a dump truck filled with money in the middle of campus and you could go over and take your share and you don't go over," said Schumer. "Why is it? I don't know."

The senator said he believes it could be because the credit is relatively new, having first been available during filing for the 2009 tax year.

"Whatever the reason, it is amazing," he said.

If every college student who qualified for the credit statewide claimed it, it would amount to "$1.1 billion in the pockets of New York students and their parents," said Schumer.

"Here in the North Country, it's $100 million," said Schumer. "That's a lot of money that could be used going to the restaurants and the stores and buying things, helping our local economy, rather than going to Washington to the tax man."

Those who didn't file for the credit on their 2009 tax returns aren't out of luck, however, noted Schumer. Last year's returns may still be amended, meaning students and their families are still eligible for their share of up to $38 million in savings.

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