Who wants more tax breaks? Everybody.

Who deserves a greater tax break on the cost of college tuition? All current and future college parents and that means you, the members of College Parents of America.

One of our greatest priorities in the coming months will be to push in Congress the dual notion of greater tax deductibility for the cost of college, and universal eligibility for taking advantage of those deductions.

First of all, it is important for you to know that, thanks to a provision pushed by U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York then made part of the tax bill signed into law by President Bush in 2001, tuition costs up to $3,000 are deductible for joint filers with income up to $130,000 in the current year, and those same costs up to $4,000 will be deductible in 2004 and 2005.

That’s a “good start,” as Senator Schumer likes to say, but much more needs to be done. College Parents of America supports a tripling of this tax break, and an elimination of the income ceiling on this benefit, so that up to families of any income level may deduct annual tuition costs of up to $12,000.

As you well know, for many families, the cost of sending their kids to college is the single largest investment they will ever make, short only of their investment in a home if they happen to live in a high-cost housing market.

This investment is clearly paying off for our American economy. Various studies have shown that attainment of a college degree adds anywhere from $1-1.6 million to the lifetime earnings of an individual. And, of course, this additional income is taxable, thereby adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to the “revenue” line of the U.S. Government.

But more than just individual dollars and cents, the collective power of an educated workforce adds incalculable value to our American society. Scientific breakthroughs, medical advances, historical insights and many other evidences of “progress” are brought forward every day from people who are educated and trained at institutions of higher education.

As I said to you in my first column in early September, “if owning a home is the American dream, then a college education is the ticket to get there.” That’s why tax deductibility for the full cost of a college education should be as commonplace as tax deductibility for the interest costs of a home mortgage.

The aforementioned Senator Schumer has a bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Joseph Biden of Delaware, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Birch Bayh of Indiana and Gordon Smith of Oregon that would increase deductibility up to $12,000 for any family earning less than $109,250 per year. We applaud Sen. Schumer for his efforts, but respectfully suggest that all tuition-paying U.S. parents should be able to take advantage of this deduction, just as all U.S. homeowners can take advantage of mortgage interest deductibility.

If the U.S. senator from your home state is part of the group of five on the list above, please let them know you are pleased with this proposal of a $12,000 deduction, and that the deduction should be available to all U.S. taxpayers. If your U.S. senator is not on the list, urge them to sign up for Sen. Schumer’s “Make College Affordable Act,” and to suggest to Mr. Schumer that he revise his bill to make all taxpayers eligible.