Tag Archives | college costs

Good news for parents and their high-achieving kids: Top colleges have NOT gotten tougher to get into

So, time for a bit of good news for anyone who has worried about how they, or a child or grandchild of theirs, will ever get into a decent college: It turns out that the super-low acceptance rates you’ve heard about are partly a matter of what I would call Irrational Overapplication Syndrome.

In short, as Kevin Carey of the New America Foundation explains, an explosion in the number of colleges that students apply to–it’s not uncommon for 17-year-olds to send applications to more that a dozen schools–means that acceptance rates may drop even though schools are NOT more selective than they used to be. “The growth in applications per student creates a vicious cycle, causing admission rates at the best schools to artificially decline, students to become more anxious, and the number of applications per student to grow even more,” writes Carey in The New York Times. Once you eliminate the kids who have no hope of entry to the top schools, the acceptance rates for qualified candidates are not much different than they were in the past.

So, getting into a good school isn’t especially more difficult now than it’s been in the past. Paying for it, on the other hand…

Making college more affordable? Maybe not in Oregon: tuition tax deduction held hostage to corporate tax break

The part-time legislature in my little backward state of Oregon is still trying to complete last year’s tax code—the one we are using to file taxes, ahem, right now. A recent bill would let about 50,000 taxpayers here take the same $4,000 deduction for college costs that they are allowed on their federal returns.

Oregon capitol bldg 200x141 Making college more affordable? Maybe not in Oregon: tuition tax deduction held hostage to corporate tax breakWho could have a problem with this? How about business groups that want their share of the goodies? When errors in the drafted bill sent it back to the Oregon House, corporate lobbyists started pushing for the bill to also include the state equivalent of an existing federal tax break for purchases of equipment. While everybody talks, the tuition deduction is on hold.

And who knows what’s going on with taxes in the Oregon legislature anyway? Apparently not the legislators, who aren’t aware of what they did two years ago. As Michelle Cole, reporter for The Oregonian, hilariously put it, “During discussions about the drafting mistakes, lawmakers learned that legislation passed in 2009 permanently disconnected Oregon’s tax code from those federal provisions.”

Cost to the state of the tuition break for parents & students: About $10 million. Cost of the business break: About $90 million.

Oh, and since the bill has been held up, if the deduction does pass, then any parents who have already filed their tax returns will have to amend their state returns to get the benefit.