GOP Tax Plan Will Undermine Graduate Education in Sciences

Psychology Ph.D student Samantha Elliott helped organize a University of Oklahoma protest against a Republican tax reform plan that could harm graduate students

Grad Students Would Be Hit By Massive Tax Hike Under House GOP Plan

Five USC graduate students have organized a national walkout on Wednesday to protest provisions that would affect higher education in the Republican-sponsored tax reform bill.

As part of a planned, nationwide walkout and rally, many grad students at the University of DE did not attend classes Wednesday.

Under current tax laws, many doctoral and graduate students receive tuition waivers that are not counted as taxable income as long as the student does research or teaches for the university. If passed, he said there is little question it will close the door to graduate education for some low-income students, at a time that outreach to those students is more important than ever.

Several Baylor students plan to reach out to state representatives to request support of a bill without taxes on tuition waivers, but other options don't necessarily sit well with university administration.

The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the tax plan this week.

"There are many things in the House bill that are concerning and will have enormous fiscal implications, and we are pushing back on all of them", Simmons said, "But the first thing out of my mouth in talking with political leaders is this hurts people who are paying for college, whether it's graduate students or employees". According to its Facebook page, SaveGradEd is a coalition of graduate students who will be forced to leave higher education if the GOP tax bill is passed. It's not that people approve or disapprove, but we do get a lot of questions about this: "Have they said something?"

Addressing the crowd, global sociology graduate student Snigdha Kumar said worldwide students already face higher student fees, taxes and costs associated with moving to the United States. The Senate bill also doesn't tax deductions for student loan interest.

"I think the kind of position of the Republican lawmakers right now is that people just don't care enough about graduate students to be actively fighting this, and they think they can kind of slip this under the rug and it's just free money to take", she said.

"This adds another facet to it that we (graduate students) didn't anticipate", he said.

About 100 University of Oklahoma students attended a protest against counting tax waivers as tuition part of a national graduate student walkout
Connecticut Grad Students Say Proposed Tuition Waiver Tax Would Limit Access To Knowledge

The University also needs to address the conditions that "make [graduate students] so vulnerable to attacks like this", Gambino said. The tax applies to the annual investment earnings of universities with private-equity endowments that equate to more than $250,000 per student (150 schools). "Coupled with the near doubling of the standardized deduction, students stand to benefit significantly from the proposed tax reform plan".

We're always working to make sure our voices are heard throughout the CU Boulder community because we firmly believe that graduate students are great contributors to the university's objective.

Many graduates across the university receive a tuition waiver upon being accepted into a master's or Ph.D program, or once they are approved to be a teaching assistant. In basic terms, this means that students will pay taxes for money that is never actually in their physical possession.

Under this bill, graduate school will become unaffordable for anyone who doesn't have outside means to support themselves.

Washington, D.C., is now one of the most expensive cities in the country to live in, according to The Washington Post.

Scott Olson, UE Local 896/COGS labor solidarity committee chair, said because of the high cost of higher education, it's possible that only people from wealthy families might be able to pay for the cost in the future.

Speakers at the protest said they consider administrators and regents complicit in the decreasing affordability of higher education, including by approving a tuition hike this year, the first bump following a six-year freeze. The $1.41 trillion total student debt is out of control, with a loan default rate of 11 percent, and the majority of borrowers repaid nothing in the three years after finishing school. At USC, for example, many graduate students are given tuition waivers in exchange for teaching classes, grading papers and doing research.

They also explained that GRO provided graduate students with premade tweets and calling scripts and that they are working closely with the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS).

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