Opportunity Maine Tax Credit
The Opportunity Maine program provides a tax credit to help cover the payment of some student loans for eligible Maine students who graduate from a Maine community college and then work and pay taxes in Maine. No matter which community college you attend, you may get information about this program from this site.
MCCS Average Annual Tuition and Fees
The Opportunity Maine program establishes an annual credit limit (benchmark loan payment amount) for students graduating from a Maine Community College who apply for the Opportunity Maine tax credit. This figure is determined each year by the State Tax Assessor and is generally based on the average annual tuition and fees at the community colleges.
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To Claim Your Tax Credit
To claim your tax credit from the degree you earned at a Maine community college, you must meet the program’s residency and other eligibility requirements; graduate from a college; get a copy of your final transcript that shows your degree earned; and then complete and submit the Maine Revenue Service's "Credit for Educational Opportunity Worksheet for Individuals." The 2013 worksheet is available at: www.maine.gov/revenue/forms/credits/2013/13_edopp_eeonly.pdf. Previous years' forms can be found at: www.maine.gov/revenue/forms/credits/2013.htm. If you need help identifying the loan amounts that you need to complete this form, you can ask your college’s financial aid office and/or consult these sources:
1. National Student Loan Database
First, go to the website of the National Student Loan Database (NSLDS) available at http://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds_SA/. This is where you will find information about your subsidized and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans and Perkins loans, as well as the guarantee agencies for each student loan. At this NSLDS website, you can create an account for yourself and view the about your loans. You will need your personally identifiable number (PIN) to access your NSLDS account. It is the same PIN that you use for the FAFSA and provides access to your information on other U.S. Dept. of Education sites. If you lose or forget your PIN, you can obtain a duplicate (or an original) at: http://www.pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp. You should also review the "Master Promissory Note" that you received from your lender when you obtained the loan. If you do not know who your lenders are, you should go to the NSLDS website referenced above.
If you have any questions about NSLDS, you may also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center toll free at 1-800-4-FED-AID or TDD 1-800-730-8913. Their hours of operation are 8AM to Midnight (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday, and 9AM to 6PM (Eastern Time) on Saturdays. You may also send an e-mail to the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
2. Finance Authority of Maine
Next, if you have a loan guaranteed by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), you should review your "Notice of Guarantee" provided to you by FAME. You should also review your "Exit Interview Letter" provided to you by FAME. FAME is the entity (known as the "guarantor") that promises to repay the lender in the event you default on your loans. If you do not have copies of these documents, you may call FAME at (207) 623-3263 or 1-800-228-3734 or email FAME at email@example.com for assistance. FAME's normal hours of operation are Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM.
3. Other Alternative or Private Lenders
If you have also received alternative or private loans, you may contact the lenders of those loans for up-to-date information about your principal and rate of interest. Such lenders include, but are not limited to, Maine Education Loan Association (MELA).
More Information about the Program
Answers to additional questions about how the Opportunity Maine program works are available from your college financial aid office and/or the following sources:
1. Opportunity Maine, an organization that promotes the program, at http://www.opportunitymaine.org/opportunity-maine-program/frequently-asked-questions/;
2. The Maine Revenue Service, the state agency that provides the tax credit, at http://www.maine.gov/revenue/forms/credits/2013.htm. The Maine Taxpayer Service Center provides walk-in taxpayer assistance at 51 Commerce Drive in Augusta and is open Monday through Friday, except holidays, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A phone directory for Maine Revenue Services is also available at http://www.maine.gov/revenue/homepage_ files/telephon.html; and
3. The laws that created the program, available at http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/20-A/title20-Ach428-C.pdf and http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/36/title36sec5217-D.html.
Finally, please note that, as recommended by the American Association of Community Colleges, the MCCS recommends loans only for those students who absolutely cannot afford to pay by other sources. Loans in general create debt that can last for some time, so if you can afford college without using loans, we encourage you to do so even if you qualify for this tax credit.