Congressman Paul Cook

Representing the 8th District of California
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Rep. Paul Cook Votes to Expand Access to Higher Education

Jul 24, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) voted in support of H.R. 4812, the “Student and Family Tax Simplification Act.” With tuition prices at an all-time high, this bill helps ordinary Americans afford a higher education.

This bill consolidates four current tax benefits (the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Hope Scholarship credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the college tuition deduction) into one new, simplified American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). It gives students and their families a 100% tax credit for the first $2,000 of their educational expenses and a 25% credit for the next $2,000 of educational expenses. This will provide a total deduction of up to $2,500. The first $1,500 of the tax credit is refundable, which will provide meaningful tax relief for even the poorest students. This will help more students pursue their dreams of attending college and prepare them for the workforce.

Additionally, students attending college on Pell Grants will no longer be penalized by having grant money count as income for tax purposes. This will reduce the number of students who must pay taxes out of pocket for receiving Pell Grant money, allowing them to spend their money on books and supplies, rather than spending it paying the Internal Revenue Service.

Cook said, “I’m proud to support this common sense bill that simplifies the tax code to benefit students. This will prevent financial barriers from blocking students’ pursuit of the education they need to succeed. This bill eases some of these financial burdens and encourages future job and economic growth.”

A member of the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.