The Senate Universities and Colleges Subcommittee unanimously passed a bill Monday that allows community and junior colleges to collect unpaid college debts through a set off against a debtor’s income tax return.

“Right now, colleges are owed an estimate of $98 million from students who previously attended the institutions,” said Kell Smith, a spokesman for the Mississippi Community College Board.

Sponsored by Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Rankin, Senate Bill 2326, goes to the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee for action.

SB 2326 died in committee on Tuesday.

A similar House bill passed that chamber easily last week.

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Ashley F. G. Norwood, a native of Jackson, earned a bachelor's degree in English from Jackson State University and a master’s degree from the Meek School of Journalism at the University of Mississippi. Norwood, who specializes in multimedia journalism, has been recognized nationally for her documentary film the fly in the buttermilk, which covers the history, perceptions and principles of black Greek-lettered organizations at the University of Mississippi.