Craig education briefs for Sept. 27, 2014: Western slope college fair to provide information on colleges | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig education briefs for Sept. 27, 2014: Western slope college fair to provide information on colleges

Craig Daily Press Staff Report

The Colorado Western Slope College Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 5 at Aspen High School. Representatives from over 250 four year colleges and universities from throughout the country, Canada and Europe will be attending, as well as many two year colleges and technical schools. Several informative workshops will be offered. A bus will be provided if at least 20 students sign up in the guidance office by Tuesday. Contact guidance counselor Paula Duzik at MCHS for more information.

Deadline approaching for 2015 Service Academy Nomination Applications

Congressman Scott Tipton's office is currently accepting applications from students who are interested in attending a United States Service Academy in 2015. Each year members of Congress nominate a limited number of people from their districts to the U.S. Service Academies—including the Air Force, West Point, Annapolis and Merchant Marine. The honor of attending a service academy comes with a commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation.

Congressman Tipton nominated 22 students from the 3rd Congressional District in 2014 to U.S. Service Academies, according to a press release from Tipton's office. Selected students met and exceeded stringent requirements, and were required to submit an essay, test scores, an application, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and complete an in-person interview before a panel in order to be considered.

Interested students, who meet the minimum Service Academy eligibility requirements can download an application at http://tipton.house.gov/serving-you. The deadline for applications is Oct. 6, and students should submit their information to Brian McCain with Tipton's office at Brian.McCain@mail.house.gov or 719-542-1073.

MCHS to offer practice SAT

MCHS will offer the PSAT test on Oct. 15 for interested sophomores and juniors. Juniors that score above a certain mark will qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program. Cost is $14 and space is limited to the first 40 students. Sign up with Paula Duzik at MCHS.

College tax credits available for 2014 tax year

Two college tax credits and several other education-related tax benefits are available to qualifying students and their parents when they file 2014 federal income tax returns, according to a news release from the Internal Revenue Service. The American opportunity tax credit provides an annual credit of up to $2,500 for each eligible student for up to four tax years. Alternatively, the lifetime learning credit provides a credit of 20 percent of the amount spent on eligible expenses across all students on the return, for a maximum $2,000 credit per tax return.

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Though a taxpayer often qualifies for both of these credits, he or she can only claim one of them for a particular student in a particular year. These credits can be claimed on Form 8863.

Most students will receive a Form 1098-T from their institution by the end of January with information about tuition paid or billed for the prior tax year. However, amounts shown on this form may differ from amounts taxpayers are eligible to claim for these tax credits. Taxpayers should see the instructions on Form 8863 and Publication 970 for details on properly figuring allowable tax benefits.

For those eligible, including most undergraduate students, the American opportunity tax credit will generally yield the greater tax savings. Alternatively, the lifetime learning credit should be considered by part-time students and those attending graduate school.

Income limits and other restrictions apply.

You can use the IRS's Interactive Tax Assistant tool to help determine if you are eligible for these benefits. The tool is available on IRS.gov. Details can also be found in the Tax Benefits for Education Information Center on IRS.gov.

Other education-related tax benefits include zero taxes on scholarships and fellowship grants when funds are used to pay for tuition and fees, student loan interest deductions of up to $2,500 per year, zero taxes on savings bonds used to pay for college within certain income limits, and qualified tuition programs — also called 529 plans—used to prepay or save for a child's college education.