Taxable Tuition = Trouble for Graduate Students

Under the House Republican Tax Reform bill, graduate students who receive tuition waivers would have to pay income taxes because the waivers would be counted as income.

A House tax-cut plan containing "cruel and petty" measures would hamstring teachers and graduate students to fund tax breaks for the rich, education advocates say.

While the current versions of the Senate tax plan don't include the move to tax the tuition waiver as income, college officials said they remain concerned about other provisions that are in the Senate version. The Student Loan Interest Deduction - used by many to help pay off their loans - could be eliminated, Employer-provided tuition benefits, which employers use to make sure they have a well-trained workforce, would be treated as taxable income. This specific provision was included in a tax plan passed by the United States House of Representatives earlier this month.

The House tax bill would slash $65 billion in tax benefits for higher education over 10 years, according to Steven Bloom of the American Council on Education. That means working graduate students - such as teaching assistants, research assistants and other graduate workers - who thought they could earn a their degree without having to pay for tuition could still end up taking out loans to pay the tax on their tuition credits.

"It would send a message to our grad students that is unacceptable", DePauw said.

Peter Weck, a second year physics PhD student at Hopkins, said that were this tax plan to go through, he would have to seriously consider dropping out of his program.

Wallace said her taxes would likely increase marginally but her income is already limited as a graduate student. However, students who are working toward an advanced degree are among those who could be paying more under the new plan.

Also in a written statement to the newspaper, Kaine said, "Graduate students have invested time and money to plan out their futures based on a promise that was made to them, and changing the rules is wrong". He says it could "have the unintended outcome of driving graduate students out of the United States and toward colleges and universities in Canada, Europe, and around the rest of the world".

He was disappointed with the University's response to the graduate students' concerns.

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"I wanna be a nurse at some point", said Finkbeiner, with her son in arms. Graduate students and faculty gathered at 1:30 p.m. around the Benjamin Franklin statue on College Green, where individuals could speak up to the group about the tax bill.

How do you think this could affect future students' choices to enter graduate school?

From the first day of our campaign, the most important thing that we've told our supporters is that the union is us.

Further, many campus workers would also experience tax hikes over the next decade. They say the legislation would "cause a crisis in graduate education". Psychology professor Dr. Stan Huey was one of the handful of faculty members supporting the grad students. A major research university may invest $400,000 or more for each graduate student, through financial support including tuition scholarships and stipends.

The rally held at Penn was the only event held in Philadelphia that was a part of the SaveGradEd's national walk-out against the tax bill that occurred at more than 60 universities.

Graduate students also conduct research that contributes to Georgetown's status as a Research I worldwide center for scholarly research.

It would also repeal the estate tax, which could cut charitable giving by 6 to 12 percent and reduce bequests by 16 to 28 percent, according to studies by the Congressional Budget Office and the Brookings Institution. Our power comes from our will to take action to improve our lives, and continuing to take action is what we plan to do as the Washington University Graduate Workers Union.

Passed by the House of Representatives on November 16, the tax proposal is a $1.5 trillion plan that promises a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code.

  • Darren Santiago