For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
St. Paul, MN – State Representative JoAnn Ward (DFL – Woodbury) is wishing students well as they kick off the new school year and reminding families about tax credits for school supplies and significant funding increases for their local schools districts. In addition, all-day Kindergarten is available for every child free of charge for the first time in state history and college students are benefiting from the second year of a tuition freeze at state colleges and universities.
“I put a major emphasis on improving our children’s education during my first term because it’s one of the priorities my constituents care about most,” said Ward. “By paying back the ‘school shift,’ expanding opportunities for our youngest learners and tying significant local funding increases to rigorous achievement standards, we’re preparing our kids to succeed in the classroom and beyond.”
By making education a top priority, Ward aims to build a highly educated workforce that can compete in today’s global economy. By 2018, 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require post-secondary education according to a 2010 study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
“Improving college and career readiness was a big part of our work during the past legislative session,” added Ward. “Building a highly educated workforce is essential for economic growth in the years ahead. It will allow us to attract and retain major employers like 3M that provide great jobs.”
Major highlights for the upcoming school year include:
ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN FOR EVERY CHILD - For the first time in state history, all-day Kindergarten is available for every child free of charge. As a result, families with Kindergarteners enrolled in the South Washington County Public School District will save thousands of dollars every year. Moms and dads previously paid over $2,500 in tuition for the full-day option.
TAX CREDITS FOR SCHOOL SUPPLIES - Minnesota offers two programs to help moms and dads pay for their children’s education expenses. The K-12 Education Subtraction and the K-12 Education Credit can lower the tax you pay or increase your refund when filing your Minnesota income tax return. You may qualify for the K-12 subtraction, the K-12 credit, or both if you save your receipts.
Common expenses that qualify include school supplies such as pencils, paper and calculators, educational computer hardware and software, extracurricular academic or fine arts classes such as dance, music lessons, art and science, and tutoring for subjects needed for K-12 classes taught by a qualified instruction.
The K-12 subtraction lets you subtract qualifying educational expenses from your taxable income when you file a Minnesota income tax return. You may subtract up to $1,625 in education expenses for each child in grades kindergarten through 6, and $2,500 for each child in grades 7 through 12. There is no income limit to qualify for the education subtraction, and you may qualify regardless of your filing status.
The K-12 credit reduces your state income tax or increases your refund. If you meet certain income requirements, you may claim this credit on your Minnesota income tax return for up to 75 percent of qualifying educational expenses. You may claim this credit and receive a refund even if you don’t owe income tax for the year.
*Click here to open a brochure with more information from the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
FUNDING INCREASES FOR LOCAL SCHOOLS – Most students in Rep. Ward’s legislative district (53A) attend the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale and South Washington County Public School Districts – both of which received significant funding increases for the upcoming school year.
North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District: Over $6.1 million in additional funding ($574 more per student).
South Washington County School District: Over $8.7 million in additional funding ($489 more per student).
HOT LUNCHES FOR LOW-INCOME STUDENTS - A report from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid published earlier this year found that some Minnesota school districts denied hot lunch to low-income students who had insufficient funds in their lunch accounts. In response, the legislature unanimously increased funding for the school lunch program to ensure no child is ever denied a hot lunch due to the inability to pay.
TUITION FREEZE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS - The legislature froze tuition for two years for Minnesota residents earning an undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. Tuition had more than doubled over the previous decade before the tuition freeze went into effect last year. State lawmakers also made the largest investment in state financial aid in over a decade to help more students pay for a post-secondary degree.
Rep. Ward encourages her constituents to contact her with any questions about the legislature’s investments in education. She can be reached by phone at (651) 296-7807, by email at email@example.com or by postal mail at 531 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.