A&M International Celebrates Financial Aid Awareness Week, Offers Workshops

Gathering information about college financial aid may sometimes be a cumbersome and complicated task.

As Texas A&M International University celebrates Financial Aid Awareness Week from Feb. 2 through Feb. 6, those interested in applying for financial aid will be able to receive plenty of useful data in one location by attending one of two workshops that have been scheduled at the University as part of the awareness week celebration.

The two workshops are part of the celebration and are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3 and Thursday, Feb. 5 at Pellegrino Hall, room 112.

Those who attend the workshops will be able to receive information on how to fill out a financial aid form, the various financial aid available and information regarding the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit, Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and Student Loan Interest Deduction.

The Hope Scholarship Tax Credit gives a family a tax break of up to $1,500 per year per student for two years. The Hope Credit is calculated by taking 100 percent of the first $1,000 in qualified tuition and fee expenses and 50 percent of the next $1,000 paid for a total of $1,500.

A family may start claiming the credit for qualified tuition and fee expenses made on or after Jan. 1, 1998 for academic periods beginning on or after Jan. 1, 1998. The first time taxpayers will be able to claim the credit is when they file their 1998 tax returns in 1999. This scholarship may be claimed for more than one individual in the family.

Another tax reduction incentive, which families can take advantage, is known as the Lifetime Learning Credit.

Starting on July 1, 1998 through 2002, taxpayers may be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $1,000 a year, or 20 percent of $5,000 of the taxpayer's out-of-pocket college expenses of all eligible family members.

Also included in the new tax cut law that President Bill Clinton recently approved is the Deduction for Student Loan Interest. Under this provision, students can deduct from their taxes interest on qualified education loans paid after Dec. 31, 1997. The maximum deduction is limited to $1,000 in 1998, which is increased yearly, reaching the maximum of $2,500 in 2001.

For further information regarding the workshops, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at (956) 326-2225. University office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu