U of M Pres: House Tax Bill Would Have Dire Consequences for Grad Students

November 28, 2017 06:38 PM

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler is sounding the alarm, saying the tax bill that's already passed the U.S. House of Representatives would have dire consequences for the school's more than 5,000 graduate students. 

Beyond that, he says the state's economy would take a hit too.


RELATED: GOP Tax Bills Split Over Teacher Classroom Supplies Deduction

"Widespread concern is an understatement," Kaler said when asked to characterize how students are responding to the bill. "People are very unsettled and upset about what this means." 

Here's the issue: the House tax bill would count tuition reductions for many graduate students as taxable income. In other words, if a grad student gets a $1,000 waiver for teaching a class, the money would be taxed, whereas right now, it's not.

It means many students already just scraping by, like Avery Garon, could owe Uncle Sam a lot more money.

"We need any help we can get to make – to keep the incentive there for us to go to grad school in the first place," Garon said.

That's why Kaler sent a letter to students as well as business and political leaders across the state this week, urging them to take a stand.

Do you agree with the decision by lawmakers to count tuition reductions for some graduate students as taxable income? Or, would you like to see that money remain tax-free? You can send an email or video clip to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Congressman Jason Lewis and Sen. Amy Klobuchar below.

"I don't see how reducing the supply of highly educated individuals, particularly in fields that are critical to our economy, makes a lot of sense," he said Tuesday. "These are the researchers who are at the front lines of our advances in agriculture, our advances in medicine, our advances in technology."

RELATED: Trump, Senate Republicans Scramble to Change Tax Plan

So far, Kaler said, Minnesotans have sent more than 19,000 messages to the state's congressional delegation, telling them to support the University of Minnesota's students.

While this tuition waiver proposal has passed the House, it's still a long way from becoming law. The Senate has yet to pass their tax bill, and as of now, that proposal does not include the tuition waiver provision.


Josh Rosenthal

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