Davis Delivers Address at Blackburn’s All-College Convocation; Announces Bill to Help Work College Students and Promote College Affordability
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) yesterday was the guest speaker at Blackburn College’s All-College Convocation. The convocation marks the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year and welcomes new and returning students to the college. Additionally, Davis announced H.R. 3409, the Work Colleges Tax Relief Act, legislation he has introduced, along with his colleague U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), to allow students to earn tax-free work based scholarships at Work Colleges across the country.
"Work Colleges, like Blackburn College, are truly unique and provide students with a quality education while teaching them the value of a day's work," said Davis. "As we continue to discuss college affordability and controlling student debt, we should look to these schools as part of the solution. This is why I was proud to join my colleagues last month in introducing the Work Colleges Tax Relief Act, which will allow students to keep more of what they earn and graduate with less debt."
“It only makes sense that we encourage the hard work of responsible students,” said Smith. “Work Colleges, including College of the Ozarks in southern Missouri, start students on the right track. This bill reduces taxes on those students and makes it easier for them to earn the scholarships they need to pay for college.”
Davis represents Blackburn College, the only Work College with a student-managed Work Program. Blackburn students work a minimum of 10 hours per week, receiving a tuition credit to offset college expenses.
“All Blackburn students living on campus are required to work,” said Dr. John Comerford, President of Blackburn College. “The Work Program experience is an integral piece of their success, paired with the academic program and providing practical work experience and leadership development opportunities. It is a scholarship that makes college more affordable while providing a more robust and complete educational experience.”
Background: At a time when students graduating college average $35,000 in student loan debt, Work Colleges offer an alternative by allowing students to achieve a four-year degree with little to no student loan debt in exchange for participation in a work-learning program. Work Colleges differ from federal work-study programs, offering scholarships through work regardless of need.
Currently, compensation students earn at Work Colleges is taxed as income, rather than a tax-free scholarship. The bill would clarify the tax treatment of these scholarships and restore the specific tax protection that was erroneously eliminated by Congress in 1986.