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The Economics of Tax Policy$
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Alan J. Auerbach and Kent Smetters

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190619725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190619725.001.0001

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Tax Benefits for College Attendance

Tax Benefits for College Attendance

Chapter:
(p.157) 6 Tax Benefits for College Attendance
Source:
The Economics of Tax Policy
Author(s):

Susan Dynarski

Judith Scott-Clayton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190619725.003.0010

National efforts to promote college enrollment are increasingly delivered through tax-based assistance, including tax credits and deductions for tuition and fees, tax-advantaged college savings plans, and student loan interest deductions. This chapter outlines the main tax-based student aid programs and describes their history and growth over time. It then provides an economic perspective on tax-based student aid, and an assessment of their impact on student behavior. It concludes with a discussion of what the tax system does particularly well, and what it does particularly poorly in comparison to traditional Department of Education-based student aid programs, and highlights opportunities for productive reform. At a minimum, a simpler system of education tax benefits would decrease the administrative and time costs of transferring funds to households with postsecondary education expenses. At best, simplification would clarify incentives and increase investments in human capital.

Keywords:   postsecondary education, college access, college finance, tax credits, tax benefits, tax incidence, financial aid, simplification, causal impacts, college savings plans

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