There are basically two kinds of graduate students. One type pays tuition. The second is someone for whom tuition is waived, in full or part. The new tax law proposed by congressional Republicans plans to raise taxes on graduate students. Both types of graduate students will be harmed.

If you work while paying for grad school…

Graduate students currently paying tuition will be affected by proposed rollbacks in a few tax credits and deductions for educational expenses. For example, you may have enjoyed a tax credit (up to $2000) for costs to you associated with your graduate degree. That’s gone. If your employer is paying for your graduate school, their tax credits will disappear, too. Also, changes in itemization rules will limit the deductions you can take for educational expenses and for interest paid on student loans.

If you are a TA or in a research position…

The new proposal repeals Section d of US Code 117 . Taking away that little tidbit of goodness could make all the difference for many. Graduate students who work as TA’s or in research groups usually receive a  working stipend (usually around $12,000-$30,000 per year, depending upon field) which is already taxed. They also tend to receive tuition waivers, due to their quasi-employee status. PhD students are usually recipients of these waivers, but many master’s students get them also. These waivers are officially referred to as qualified scholarships for tax purposes. If the new law passes, the value of the tuition waiver will ride on top of that stipend for tax purposes. In other words, students will be taxed for a cash-less benefit in addition to their stipend income. Ugh

Here’s how one such student figures it will affect him:

So I broke down my tax bill under Trump's "Cut Cut Cut" proposal.

My taxes won't be cut. My tax bill will quadruple.

— David A. Walsh (@DavidAstinWalsh) November 5, 2017

Write your congress persons now

Let them know how you feel about this issue. Getting through grad school is hard enough. Making it harder, in this way, is unnecessarily punitive and counterproductive. Perhaps you have other thoughts and reactions?

The most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is email your US Congressman and both of your US Senators.  Be nice. Be respectful. Be professional. And be firm. Your input matters.

Register to vote

The other most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is register to vote. And then never stop voting for the rest of your life. The people who make these laws count upon your apathy.

Read this twitter thread for more info

  1. GOP tax bill would tax tuition wavers for grad students. This would be a disaster for US STEM PhD education.

— Claus Wilke (@ClausWilke) November 3, 2017