EITC Boosts College Enrollment

Puerto Rico’s residents are not eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit which is available to other U.S. citizens. The EITC provides an incentive for low-income workers to stick with jobs which could lead to a better future, helps to support low-income families, and a host of other social benefits.

New research shows that it also increases college enrollment. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, independent researchers have identified patterns in the educational experience of kids from families receiving EITC that lead to increased college attendance.

Supported families have kids who

  • get higher test scores, especially in math.
  • are more likely to graduate high school.
  • are more likely to attend college after high school.

The connection is clear. “The larger the EITC a child’s family receives, the more likely he or she is to enter college by age 19 or 20,” says Chye-Ching Huang, reporting on research conducted by Michelle Maxfield of Michigan State University.

A working paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds an even stronger connection: families which receive tax refunds in the spring because of the EITC are more likely to enroll their students in college in the fall. Quite simply, having those funds available makes it possible.

Puerto Rico’s Congressional representative. Pedro Pierluisi, has pointed out that “There is no principled basis for excluding Puerto Rico from the EITC.” The credit is available to mainland citizens who do not earn enough to pay Federal income taxes, so the fact that many Puerto Ricans do not pay Federal income taxes is not relevant to their eligibility for the credit. President Obama expressed an intention to extend the EITC to Puerto Rico during his first campaign, but has not yet accomplished this goal.

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