CORVALLIS - Do not open until New Year's Day or later. That's a holiday message Oregon State University hopes to send home with students later this month.
The message is pointed at OSU's 1998 winter term tuition bills. It results from a new federal law that may help OSU students and parents qualify their educational costs for a tax credit.
The Hope tax credit becomes available Jan. 1, 1998. With certain restrictions, it allows students and families to claim credit for payments of tuition and fees made on or after that date.
When Congress approved the law, however, it neglected to recognize the fact that many students and parents pay winter term tuition bills with year-end funds in late 1997. Payments made in 1997 would not be eligible for the credit.
OSU is among many U.S. colleges and universities that are changing normal operations to alert students and parents about the new law and its requirements.According to Bob Duringer, OSU director of business affairs, the university's first step will be to delay sending winter term bills until late December.
"The bills probably won't even arrive until after Jan. 1," Duringer said. "But, if they do, they will contain a message urging that payments not be made until after the start of the New Year."
In addition, the university plans to delay the electronic transfer of financial aid credits until midnight on Jan. 1 to assure that those transactions also occur in 1998. And OSU plans to extend its payment deadline from Jan. 10 to Jan. 13 to accommodate the overall change in the billing cycle.