Graduate students stage protest of GOP tax plan changes to graduate benefits

In addition to taxing tuition waivers, the bill also targets $5,250 of tax-free income faculty, undergraduates and graduate students receive.

Katie Brown and Yvonne Slosarski, both seventh-year communications Ph.D. students at the University of Maryland, say grad students are already extremely vulnerable.

Graduate students around the country walked out of their classes, office hours, and research labs to protest the House Republican tax plan Wednesday. For everyone else, such an arrangement would be considered taxable wage income, but this loophole allows graduate students to face a different set of rules.

Most graduate students we've talked to are aware of the situation.

This month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a tax bill that promises middle class tax relief. The House leaves intact another provision of the tax code-section 117 (a)-which provides that scholarships used to pay college tuition are not considered taxable income.

University graduate students already claim an annual stipend averaging $21,958 per year for providing teaching assistance, tutoring and research work.

"It effectively doubles [what I'm taxed for], but it doesn't change what I see in my bank account", Harding said.

Such students "deserve congressional support", they said.

Elena Gambino, a University Ph.D. candidate in political science, said "adding on a couple of thousand dollars in extra taxes would absolutely make [graduate programs] unaffordable".

"This bill is hitting education every which way", she said.

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Typically, Bradford makes that throw in his sleep. "I just thought it was best for him that we got him out of there". But as fate would have it... "Duck, duck, goose was planned in the huddle right before we went out", Rudolph said.

GSU coordinated an effort, last week, for graduate students to reach out to members of Congress, "to keep them informed about the negative repercussions that this bill would have on graduate students' lives and also on our institutions", Lee said.

Amid anxiety about an escalation of campus protests, the University of Cape Town has even made its final-year students sit their exams in a large marquee on its rugby fields, using fences, guards in riot gear and dogs to prevent any disruption.

"I barely scrape by", McCumber said.

"Members of the University's Governing Boards and friends of the University have also expressed their concerns to policymakers, and our federal affairs team in Washington is working around the clock with peers and others to advance our case", he wrote. The new tax plan calls for $65 billion savings from public and private universities and their students, over the next 10 years. Minnesotans should call on our leaders to oppose this bill.

A House tax-cut plan containing "cruel and petty" measures would hamstring teachers and graduate students to fund tax breaks for the rich, education advocates say.

Nationwide, about 57 percent of tuition waivers given to graduate students go to scholars in science, technology, engineering and math - key areas for US economic growth, Delaney noted. "And again, the university is very gracious with the stipend, but it's modest to live off of".

"This adds another facet to it that we (graduate students) didn't anticipate", he said.

"It would mean I would either have to get a job, several other jobs, or drop out of grad school", Jess Issacharoff said.

Carney said it will create a ripple effect through the University that will impact the overall number of students able to attend graduate school at Auburn.

Those studying with student visas can not seek employment off-campus to ease the additional cost burden. We assist faculty with their courses and research, design and teach our own courses, present our work at academic conferences, apply for research grants and fellowships that enhance the university's reputation and participate in charitable efforts that encourage good relations with the community. "When looking at a tax reform package, it is important to remember that it extends beyond singular changes and deductions". With such staggering costs and little financial support, higher education, the quintessential opportunity structure, is increasingly less accessible to those who would personally benefit from it. Take Tufts University, for example, which has more students from the top 1 percent than from the bottom 60 percent. We simply can not afford to lose ground in attracting those students who we know will drive innovation, guide the development of new technologies, and perform the type of path-breaking research that will improve our economy and quality of life.


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