Bill endangers tuition policy for university employees

                    Minister Schmi
6:26am Minister Schmi

01 December, 2017

"The proposed tax plan would, in the form passed by the House, tax tuition and fee waivers making graduate education, in particular, much more expensive", said Jim Ahern, associate vice provost for graduate education.

Graduate Teaching Fellows at the University of OR held a rally Wednesday on campus to protest the GOP tax bill. Under the new tax plan, these tuition waivers would be made taxable income, which would effectively increase taxes by about 31 percent for research assistants at UC Berkeley, according to an analysis of the bill.

And the latter, the Virginia Tech graduate student said, is under attack by a Republican tax plan that has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The provisions of the bill would result in an estimated 145,000 graduate students across the country facing higher taxes.

Jason Rock earns a stipend of about $25,000 a year for his research assistantship at the University of IL, but almost a third of that would go to Uncle Sam if Congress approves the House version of the GOP tax plan.

The plan would raise taxes for in-state students by hundreds of dollars and by more than $1,000 for out-of-staters, according to the graduate student assembly's calculations.

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

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. After a Senate floor vote that could come this week, the House and Senate versions would go to a conference committee to resolve any differences. In between speeches, protesters chanted "We are workers" and "Hey, C. Pax, we need your help to fight this tax".

Since then, Price has written to members of the North Carolina House and Senate delegations asking for the representatives to protect higher education.

Graduate students in attendance said it is already a challenge to make ends meet in the Bay Area. Her tuition waiver of about $16,000 a year would double her taxable income, if counted under the new plan.

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Students from other universities are concerned as well.

The event started at 1 p.m. and opted for a less traditional walkout, encouraging students, faculty and members of the community to take part in the protest without having to leave their classes to show support.

"I wanna be a nurse at some point", said Finkbeiner, with her son in arms. The university system estimates that 30% of its students and their families depend on provisions of the current tax law, including the tax-exempt tuition waiver.

The tuition waiver tax would be especially hard for students from other states or other countries, whose waivers carry much higher value given their out-of-state tuition rates, Chodzko-Zajko said.

This tax could radically alter how graduate schools operate.

Beyond the direct effects, Simmons also sees a larger tension ahead if the bill's tax cuts further a two-decade-long squeeze of federal discretionary spending. O'Shea wrote. "Enactment of those provisions would hurt students and their families and limit access to higher education". Changes to Tax Credits will provide about $18 billion of the $65 billion in revenue over 10 years.

"It would essentially push graduate programs back to a 19th-century model of higher education in which only the rich could go on to higher education", Brown said.

Losing us would not only decrease research productivity and revenue, but it would also eliminate one of the reasons that many undergraduates and master's students choose to commit to Georgetown in the first place. His research group focuses on biodegradable metals for medical devices that could save lives, like cardiovascular stents that open up blocked arteries and safely absorb into the body once their work is done.

The benefit can mean substantially more at private colleges and universities.

Many grad students would have to drop their programs or pick up several extra jobs, which takes them away from their university duties.

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