Tax reform plan could have negative impact on grad students

NATIONAL (WCIA) -- One piece of the proposed tax bill could have a major impact on many college students in the U.S.

Some graduate students at universities across Illinois are worried getting their Ph.D.s could become financially impossible.

The bill would eliminate or merge some tax deductions which help people afford higher education. Tuition waivers would instead be taxed like regular income.

Current grad students are baffled. They say it would put a tax burden on them very few could handle.

Right now, many earn their keep through teaching or research, but if this part of the bill is passed, they say graduate school wouldn't even be an option.

"I'm here because I work really hard to be here."

College students across the state have a burning question.

"It's unfair to tax people for essentially being good students right?"

Grace Hebert isn't just trying to be a good student. She, like many others, is also teaching and completing research for the University of Illinois.

"I would be working and getting absolutely no money for working."

Tuition waivers are the lifeline for many grinding toward post-grad degrees.

"If I didn't have a tuition waiver, I wouldn't be here."

It means people who don't have extra money laying around would be forced to stay out of school.

"It would basically make it very hard to justify being a grad student."

"Instead of just most people getting Ph.D.s it would be pretty much every Ph.D. student would have to come from relative wealth."

Republican lawmakers say the bill would get rid of deductions which drive up taxes, and it would simplify the tax code. Grad students and critics say it just doesn't add up.

"For me, that would be an almost 25-30 percent tax rate on my actual income, which is close to the highest tax rate that anyone pays, which seems a little extreme."

"I was really disappointed, because higher education is really important for the economy and the future of our country, and it seems like they don't really care."

Students say they plan on calling U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis (R) this week. Davis voted for the bill, but they want to make sure their concerns on tuition waivers are heard.


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