GOP house tax bill spells trouble for college students

Sam Hallanger ’18, Student Life/Sports Editor

The Republican House of Representatives passed their version of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act recently and are trying to get it passed to be put into law by 2018. The bill does not sound good for college students; it makes  students seeking graduate school vulnerable to taxes on their educational waivers. They receive these waivers by becoming research assistants or teaching assistants to professors of the schools they attend. The waivers act as a tuition assistant to help graduate students attend school and make money without burdening their education. This bill the House Republicans passed makes the path to earning a doctorate degree very hard in the U.S., which can drastically affect the economy as more educated people allow for a better economy due to smarter choices regarding spending also for greater innovation.

These provisions in the bill will deter many foreign students and U.S. citizens from using American universities to further their education to get a doctorate degree. According to The American Council for Education, the bill will cost American graduate students about $65 billion by 2027 from the provisions put in the House version of the bill. This bill can price out students and cause them to seek a higher education somewhere else, like another country. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act will affect thousands of students studying to earn their doctorate degree. “I thinks it’s dumb and does not do any good”, senior Janie Mitchell said because the provision only hurts students. About 145,000 students use the tuition waivers to help with the heavy lifting of cost that universities are bearing down on their students according, to The American Council for Education. “This does too much harm to be worth it”, junior Travis Harmala said. The taxes on the waivers could increase to up to 400 percent  more than what graduate students are paying now. This bill should not be allowed to damage and deter students who only seek to further their education.

Many are calling out the House Republicans for wanting to scrap section 117(d) of the Internal Revenue Code which exemplifies qualified tuition waivers from being taxed. Yet, there is a simple solution to what many are calling a huge problem: reclassify the waivers as scholarships instead. “If there’s an easy way out why does it matter?” senior Jacob Madis asked. Scholarships are still not taxed in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act  (section 117(a)) which makes a clear distinction between a tuition waiver and a scholarship. The schools should just have the graduate students work for their living stipend since it is already taxed under the current code, but then do not have the students work for their scholarship. It is an easy fix that can affect how colleges and universities work, yet not enough to burden or harm them.

At the end of the day this provision in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act will just harm American graduate students. It will do students no good and drown them in debt from trying to further their education in this bill. The House Republican Bill must be fixed and look the Senate’s version of the Tax bill if they do not want to ruin people’s chances of attaining a degree.


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