Tax reform bill to tax graduate students’ tuition breaks

A tax reform bill passed through the House on Nov. 16 could affect US graduate students’ income by taxing tuition breaks, significantly impacting the finances of staff and faculty at universities.

As the House and the Senate pass their respective version of the tax bill, the Republican Party tried to reach a compromise. Depending on which changes stay, the cost of education could potentially increase the taxable income graduate students receive every year.

Taxing tuition waivers would be detrimental to graduate students all over the country, according to the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. NAGPS has been advocating against the taxing of tuition waivers, organizing rallies and protests on college campuses like at Oklahoma State University or Georgetown University.

Other students are taking the protest directly to their representatives. ‘Kill the Bill’ chants gathered around Paul Ryan’s office. This demonstration ended in the arrest of eight students, who fear the elimination of the exemption will make it impossible for them to stay in school. “I can’t afford to complete my degree if the exemption goes away,” said Bill Russell, in an interview with the Washington Post.

What changes could we expect in Tennessee Tech? Alice Camuti, Tech’s Graduate Studies Administrator, says that today, waivers are not taxed, but there’s a possibility they could be in the future.

“At this time we do not believe that our enrollment will be affected by the tax reform bill,” she said.

As different organizations like NAGPS look for solutions, schools are also looking for ways to minimize potential damage.

“TTU is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and we are seeking their input on what graduate programs across the U.S. may be doing to lessen the impact on the student,” Camuti said.