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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 16, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: Tax plan would hurt grad students and undergrads

The proposed Republican tax plan passed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives this past weekend. Analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the plan benefits the wealthy the most.

Ninety-one percent of households that make between $500,000 and $1 million a year would see a tax cut of at least $500 a year. In addition, households that make between $100,000 and $200,000 a year would see the largest decrease in taxes. The tax plan has all sorts of provisions that can and will negatively impact students and their families.

Families who work at colleges or universities are often able to send their children to those institutions for reduced fees, sometimes with no tuition charge at all. But under the new tax plan, that tuition waiver or reduction could be taxed as income. In addition, families that earn below a certain income level can claim a tax credit for their children who attend college, but the Republican tax plan would reduce the value of this tax credit.

There are also the changes that could affect graduate students. A Ph.D. candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that taxes on graduate students could increase by nearly 400 percent. Graduate students typically do research for faculty members or teach undergraduate students in exchange for free tuition and a living stipend. But the Republican tax plan proposes a tax on the tuition waiver and the stipend that graduate students receive. Any Ithaca College student considering going to graduate should be concerned about this tax plan.

The Republican tax plan is taxing people for money that they will never see. It is hard enough for low-income families to send their children to college, even with scholarships and stipends. Introducing these taxes basically erases any relief that these scholarships may provide and introduces additional financial burdens for students and their families to shoulder.

The tax plan perpetuates the notion that college is for rich people who can afford to go, instead of a place where people from all backgrounds can come together and learn from one another. By introducing these tax plans, Republicans will gravely harm the way that colleges foster an intellectual environment for people from all backgrounds.