Reporter’s notebook

Congress moves to fix ‘kiddie’ tax

Education advocates are urging Congress to move on legislation to fix a mistake in the 2017 tax law that would affect certain students receiving student aid and scholarships.

S. 1667, the Tax Relief for Student Success Act — introduced by Sens. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) — represents a bipartisan fix to correct changes made to the so-called “kiddie” tax in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) that impacts many low- and middle-income students who rely on scholarships and other aid. 

Prior to TCJA, full-time students under age 24 had scholarship money taxed at the marginal rate of the students’ parents, which is almost always very low, particularly for low-income students, according to the American Council on Education (ACE). 

“These students now are being taxed at the same rates as wealthy individuals,” ACE said in a letter supporting the proposed fix.

The TCJA error could affect about 775,000 community college students, according to an analysis by the American Association of Community Colleges. 

ACE noted that the Senate is considering a similar kiddie-tax fix already approved by the House as part of a broader piece of legislation largely pertaining to retirement tax issues. 

Build your Promise program

The California College Promise Project at WestEd has a new guidebook to help colleges develop, strengthen and expand Promise programs. 

The guide provides step-by-step instructions to:

  • Identify and convene program partners
  • Formalize partnership roles and responsibilities
  • Identify program goals and develop a logic model
  • Establish program eligibility and continuation requirements
  • Determine financial coverage for student participants
  • Integrate student support services
  • Ensure financial sustainability
  • Develop a communication plan
  • Design an evaluation and research framework

Each section of the guidebook includes tools and exercises to help teams design the core program structure and functionality. A cost estimator tool can be downloaded from the website. 

Hurricane-resistant home models

Engineering students at Harford Community College (Maryland) recently demonstrated two hurricane-resistant house scale models that they built for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

The final models will be shared with institutions around the country to increase design and construction awareness of mitigation techniques for high-wind areas.

FEMA contacted the college this year to ask if their students would like to participate in a DAWG HAUS (Disaster Avoidance With Good Home Attenuating Unionization System) pilot model house-building project for the agency. Fourteen students in “Mechanics of Materials,” a course that presents the fundamentals of strength and deformation of various materials, were selected for the project. The course explores ways objects can fail and how to calculate maximum loads before failure – important information for designing. 

Harford Community College engineering students show their hurricane-resistant house scale models to HCC President Dianna Phillips (left) and HCC board member James McCauley (second from left). (Photo: HCC)

Training electrical cable harness wirers

Mesa Community College (MCC) in Arizona is partnering with Boeing to identify and train future electrical cable harness wirers.

The accelerated two-week, three-credit hour college course includes taking the industry certification exam.

“This is an amazing opportunity for individuals to embark on a career path as well as an education pathway,” said Leah Palmer, executive director of the Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute, located at MCC. “Boot camp instructors are Boeing employees, experienced individuals with first-hand knowledge of the skills needed in the industry.”

Boeing worked closely with MCC staff and faculty to develop the pre-assessment and course curriculum to ensure individuals receive real-world training to acquire the industry skills needed, said Vonda Davis, electrical fabrication director at Boeing.

“Students who successfully complete the boot camp will be provided an opportunity to interview with us, and if successful, will be eligible for full-time, benefitted positions,” she said.

Students earning the wiring harness certification will be reimbursed the full tuition of $255 with an out-of-pocket investment of only $15.

Students’ academic research published

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) has published the second edition of a collection of academic research conducted by selected community college students.  

Civic Scholar: Phi Theta Kappa Journal of Undergraduate Research is the first journal of its kind showcasing the undergraduate research and community engagement of two-year college students, according to PTK. The new edition features 16 research projects by PTK chapters across the country on a range of topics, such as transforming health through music therapy, and bridging the gap between immigrants and citizens.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.