Duke grad students protest proposed GOP tax plan

Alicia Cross
December 1, 2017

Currently, the Senate bill does not have the provision to tax tuition waivers.

"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. Under the House tax plan, my take-home pay would be $2,000 a month, and I'm not sure I could creatively budget around that.

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.

"Graduate students are simply not able, in most cases, to bear additional financial burdens issued by a tax on tuition resources", Lee said.

For anyone that relies on a teaching assistant or research position for graduate level tuition, you may soon pay taxes on money that you never see. Furthermore, the bill would increase the standard deduction, meaning that less income overall is taxable.

At the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, 2,257 people used the tuition waiver benefit for their spouses or children in 2013-14, the most recent year for which the system had detailed data, according to Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the system. For example, the provisions could drastically reduce the Lifetime Learning Credit, which allows students and their families to claim a credit for college expenses.

Graduate students are at the forefront of research and academic advancement in research institutions.

Two other graduate student groups on campus sponsored rallies against the tax bill earlier in the day.

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If that version passes in the Senate, the House and Senate would have to compromise on a version of a tax plan.

President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli released a statement on November 9 calling the tax plan "regressive" and asked students to express their opinions on social media and to elected officials in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Following college, many students would see their hopes for graduate school dashed under the proposed House GOP tax plan. He said the bill would more than double his taxes. However, other facets of these plans appear to decrease taxes owed when tuition is waived, so each student's individual status will dictate whether these plans harm or help. He said, "the implications on modest-income grad students appear to largely be unintended in the House bill". "If it does count, students would need to pay more taxes".

"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. "We stand in solidarity with students as we work together to advocate for fair tax policies and to advance our shared mission of supporting higher education".

"Ultimately, the differences between the House and the Senate will have to be reconciled", he said.

Schwartz said that unlike corporations and the wealthy, graduate students don't have lobbies to represent them in Washington, D.C. So instead they have to organize to try to make their voices heard.

Nationwide, about 57 percent of tuition waivers given to graduate students go to scholars in science, technology, engineering and math - key areas for USA economic growth, Delaney noted.

Unfortunately for married graduate students and those with dependent family members, the situation isn't much better. "That's so that we can do research, we can teach college classes, we can grade papers and mentor students", student Miriam Rubenson said. "When we graduate, we're a benefit to society". "We may be making half of what we thought we (would) to go on and do research for universities. Under the tax plan proposed by House Republicans, these students would have to report that tuition forgiveness as income.About 145,000 grad students received a tuition reduction in 2011-12, the American Council on Education says".

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