Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ritter's Oil and Gas Severance Tax Proposal Would Provide Scholarships

Gov. Bill Ritter's proposal to increase the state's severance tax on oil and gas extraction activities could benefit eligible college students to the tune of $1,000-$6,000 if the initiative makes the ballot and is approved by Colorado voters.

The dollar amount is the value of scholarships that could be awarded to students, according to a report in today's Rocky Mountain News.

The grants, called "Colorado Promise Scholarships," would be funded by the removal of a property tax exemption now enjoyed by the state's prosperous oil industry.

The Ritter Administration's Department of Higher Education approved the scholarship proposal yesterday and indicated the agency's support for the ballot initiative.

According to the Rocky article by Berny Morson,

The analysis presented Thursday assumes scholarships would be available to students from families earning up to $102,000 a year. But the actual cap could be different, and it's not clear how the rules would apply to large families supporting several students in college, Skaggs said.

The analysis also includes the assumption that students would make a financial contribution, by working or with the help of a nonprofit organization. Awards would be affected by amount of federal aid the student receives.

Students would be expected to maintain a minimum grade- point average.

A portion of the money raised under the program would be given to each of the higher education institutions to distribute as additional aid based on academic merit.