Extend your refund

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As a proud Longhorn and former student body president, I argue we must continue preparing students for the jobs that are the future of both our local and national economy.

This is why I authored the “More Education” tax credit to encourage those seeking education beyond high school. Also known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), this provision allows students or their families to reduce their federal tax payments by up to $10,000 over four years as a reimbursement for tuition, textbooks and other higher education expenses. This $2,500 annual credit can go a long way toward helping make ends meet.

Even students attending school and working part time, who have under a $2,500 tax liability, can still claim up to $1,000 in a refundable tax credit for eligible educational expenses. The credit does not apply to expenses paid with monies received through a scholarship or other grant, but the credit can be used to cover any additional out-of-pocket costs.

But, unless my “More Education” initiative is extended, 11 million students and their families will be denied this assistance during 2013. I urge the House Appropriations Committee to increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,635 from its current amount. More than 20 percent of Longhorns received Pell Grants during the 2011-2012 school year, but some could receive smaller checks in the future we don’t fight for the increase. Some in Congress oppose increasing or even maintaining federal support for students who need it. Your involvement matters.

Let’s retain the higher education tax credit and Pell Grants and ensure more students the opportunity to seek well -paying jobs. I encourage all Longhorns to get involved by making their voices heard — writing letters to the editor, posting opinions online and, of course, voting. Remember, here in Texas, the last day to register to vote or to re-register where you currently live is Oct. 9.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett was UT student body president and a graduate of the UT School of Business and Law School.