New tax bill could affect UNF Graduate students

Sam Chaney

Photo by Morgan Purvis

According to the new tax bill proposed by House Republicans, tuition waivers for graduate students would be treated as taxable income in an effort to provide more tax breaks for U.S. corporations.

Tuition waivers help to reduce the overall out-of-pocket cost of a graduate degree. They are provided in exchange for conducting research, teaching or participating in other such assistantships.

Graduate students would be essentially taxed on the value of their free tuition. This is money they never personally receive in their bank account and could result in a disproportionate taxation system that raises the overall cost of their degree.

For example, if a graduate student makes around $20,000 in annual income or stipend but also receives a $30,000 tuition waiver, they will be taxed as though they have a $50,000 annual income.

This could put some graduate students in a completely different tax bracket, raising the amount of money they owe the government by thousands of dollars.

As a result, some graduate students are subject to an increased amount of student loan debt. Others simply may not be able to afford the new cost of their education.

“Across the country, schools are opposing [the tax bill] because graduate students would have a harder time finding the money to complete their degree,” said John Kantner, the Dean of the UNF Graduate School. “It would make it much more difficult to finish because they would have to take longer to find the [money].”

He also believes that any tax revenue that is generated would be minor, and future tax revenue could be altogether jeopardized by the move as it would keep students from further contributing to the economy in their job fields.

This tax hike is not included in the Senate tax bill that was recently passed on Dec. 2, 2017.

The proposed graduate student tax has yet to be passed in the final version of the House bill.

The full text of the bill can be found here.


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