Nov 10, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
As the United States Congress considers a bill intended to modify the Internal Revenue Code, some at Georgia Tech worry about the implications it may have for higher education — and graduate students in particular.
For the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill of 2017, the core concern is a provision which repeals current tax deductions on qualified tuition and related expenses. In many programs — particularly those in STEM fields — graduate students earn a stipend, in return for teaching or research responsibilities, as they pursue their graduate education. But graduate students also receive a tuition waiver (also known as a qualified tuition exemption), in which the cost of attendance is paid by the university on behalf of the student. Under the bill being debated, those tuition waivers would be taxed as income, which in turn could dramatically increase the tax rate for the graduate students who receive them.
This week, leadership in Graduate Student Government Association has mobilized, working with staff in Tech’s Office of Government and Community Relations as well as their fellow graduate senators to formulate a plan for voicing their opposition to this change in the tax code.
In a message to all graduate students earlier this week, Graduate SGA wrote, “Graduate students are the drivers of research excellence. They are also invaluable in delivering high quality undergraduate education. The current bill will affect U.S. universities’ ability to remain world leaders in academic research and technological innovation.”
While the added tax burden may have the most immediate impact on graduate students, the potential ripple effect on the Institute’s academic and research operations are also a consideration.
“The efforts of everyone at Georgia Tech are helping to make a difference,” said Graduate SGA Vice President Vineet Tiruvadi, a student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Graduate SGA sees this as part of a larger, longer challenge, and will be ramping up for the marathon. All community members are welcome to reach out to us, we are listening, and we want to help the community engage with the process as much as they can.”