Eastern Michigan University's Student Government will be participating in the Student Association of Michigan's trip to Lansing Thursday, April 16.
The all-day event will be spent petitioning state legislators and holding an event on the steps of the Capitol with a focus on financial aid relief for college students who stay in Michigan. Student body senator Maya Rich will be a part of EMU's representation.
“We are focusing on House bill 4118 and Senate bill 57,” Rich said. “It's bipartisan legislation that would give tax credits to students who have graduated from a Michigan university and then stay in Michigan after graduation and are working and are repaying student loans.”
According to the version of Senate Bill 57 that was introduced to the state Senate's Finance Committee, graduates of Michigan-based colleges will be able to get a tax credit of 50 percent of what they paid during a fiscal year. The House bill is virtually identical.
Although it is yet to be passed, the bill will theoretically allow alumni to get money back as long as “a qualified taxpayer shall not claim a credit of more than 20 percent of the average yearly tuition for Michigan's public universities under this section for any single tax year."
To qualify for this tax credit, alumni would have to provide proof of Michigan residency and employment.
"It would reward students for staying in the state of Michigan and are giving back to the state through their employment," Rich said.
When they get to Lansing, SAM students will be provided with “on-site advocacy training.” There will be four meetings during the day: two with state senators and two with state representatives.
In 2013, the average American college graduate walked across the aisle with nearly $30,000 in student loan debt, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Michigan ranks eighth highest in the nation for graduates with college debt. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, EMU graduates left with an average of $25,889 in debt in 2013. Michigan's average was $29,583.
While SAM events are typically for students involved in their college student governments, this event will be different because any student interested in going can. There is no fee for going, other than for lunch.
“It's open to anyone who is interested,” Rich said. “There is no cost except lunch.”
SAM does several of these trips a year, although this is the final one for the semester. While they always focus on the cost of college, they also have previously focused on sexual assault prevention. EMU's delegation will leave campus in a carpool at 8 a.m. Thursday. They will be returning to campus around 5 p.m.