Tax credit for 100 hours of community service prompts questions for OU student

By Clytie Bunyan
Published: February 1, 2009

Quyen Arana

Quyen Arana’s visit to two days after President Barack Obama’s inauguration landed him in front of a congressional panel last week.


Arana, 40, is associate director for industry partnerships at the University of Oklahoma’s K20 Center where he directs National Science Foundation grants in the Partnerships for Innovation program. He’s also involved in OU’s community engagement efforts and has been helping design a system that can track the number of hours students work in the community.

That interest prompted him to read about the American Opportunity Tax Credit Act on the Web site. The bill would provide students a $4,000 tax credit in exchange for 100 hours of community service.

Arana called one of the sponsors for more details on how the bill would work. "I asked how they intended on the universities keeping track of that,” he said.

That question turned into a 30-minute conversation with a legislative assistant. Arana described what OU has been doing with its community engagement programs and his work to help develop a tracking system. One of the things he’s noticed through his efforts to connect industry to the K20’s educational programs is a huge problem with science communication. So the center is encouraging scientists to do more outreach.

His comments were part of the service learning presentation to the congressional panel. If the bill passes, Arana hopes OU’s work will be the model for how universities can track time students spend on community engagement.

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Regardless of the politics, this act might be one of few that has a chance at bipartisan support. Paying for college has been a show-stopper for many Oklahomans and it certainly won't be any easier with the current economy. This isn't about tax credits for a particular sector of the population. It's about making college affordable for everyone, and it only applies to full-time college students, at any accredited college or university. It's also about community service, something we Oklahomans are well known for in difficult times. It's time we show the rest of the nation how well we serve at all times. In Oklahoma, some financial aid and an opportunity to learn while serving is a win-win for college students and their communities.
Quyen, Norman - Feb 3, 2009 at 10:17 PM
Sorry, typo, Pelosi is a S-H-E
Robert, Dallas - Feb 2, 2009 at 9:08 PM
Man, you guys need to go back and take your junior high civics class again. This time around you might learn, Congress passes the laws and spending bills, not the president. Sure the recommends what he wants but that doesn't mean he will get it. Now if I remember right, the last 8 years we had a Democrat controlled congress. Wow, you Bush haters just dont give up. Micheal, you really want me to put my faith is Pelosi and all the socialist hand outs he advocates? I would rather put my faith in myself and my ability to retain my own earnings rather than programs that make states go bankrupt. Haven't you noticed what all those no-fault, well intended social programs had done for California? Where do I sign up for the hand-outs?
Robert, Dallas - Feb 2, 2009 at 9:06 PM
So...with 8 years as prez, W did nothing about it? What about that veto power?
Kevin, Oklahoma City - Feb 2, 2009 at 4:04 PM
Actually, it was the Democratics in Congress that pushed all the subprime mortgages and shadey lending
SparkMan - Feb 2, 2009 at 2:59 PM students need to be enrolled full time? Can just any student claim the $4000 credit, assuming they've found a place to do community service? I know that for cash poor students competing for scarce jobs with republican-encouraged immigrants and other victims of republican economic policies, the $4000 tax credit could be the difference between going hungry and at least being able to afford beans and Ramen noodles.
Kevin, Oklahoma City - Feb 2, 2009 at 2:54 PM
Suck it, Sam
michael, Carrollton - Feb 2, 2009 at 9:49 AM
Get over it lost. Didn't your parents teach you not to be a sore loser? Yes Sam, America is changing and for the better. We have tried your ways for thepast eight years and look where we ended up...on broke street. It is time to try something sit back Sam, and let the younger generation try to fix the mess that you and your republican friends have made for us. Don't worry though, we are up for the job.
Michael, Oklahoma City - Feb 2, 2009 at 9:31 AM
Tax credit for Community Agitators like Barry Hussein O. What a great idea. Acorn (that "non-profit group" Barry agitated for) can recruit more Democrat voters & get a tax break too. Why didnt we think of that. Thats super. And the REALLY neat thingy? Most tax payers who dont pay any taxes will be getting the "BREAK". How ingenious. Give them a welfare, er tax rebate, for no taxes paid, for recruiting DEMOCRAT voters. Isnt America changing before our very eyes?
Sam, Bixby - Feb 1, 2009 at 12:00 PM