Republican tax plan impacts higher education

November 29, 2017

The GOP tax bill that was recently passed in the House of Representatives has some universities worried about the bill’s consequences for higher education.


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a bill passed by the House of Representatives with a 227-205 vote on Nov. 16, would tax students on tuition waivers, repeal provisions that protect graduate students from a tax increase and eliminate charitable deductions for donations.


The Washington Post reported 13 republicans voted against the bill, while no democrats voted for it.


The senate is working on their own version, which is expected to be voted on this week.


“Both the House and Senate tax plans eliminate deductions for interest on student loans,” according to CNBC.  But, “the senate tax plan differs in that it does not include the imposition of income taxes on tuition waivers or tuition credits.”


After a vote in the Senate, members from both houses will reconvene to iron out any further issues with the legislation.


Public servants in Washington D.C. addressed their concern with the house bill in its current form.


Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who represents Ohio’s 9th District, posed a question in a phone interview, in regards to the rollback of affordability in higher education.


“Does this mean then, that only the children of the super rich will be able to go to college?” asked Kaptur.


President Donald Trump has been pushing the tax overhaul since his time in office; and if the bill passes, it would be the administration’s first major legislative victory.


Kaptur doubts Trump’s ability to factor in the struggles of the middle class while pushing his agenda.


“I don’t expect the President of the United States to understand this; everything was given to him. He inherited everything. That isn’t the case for 99 percent of the American people,” said Kaptur.


University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber expressed her worry in a letter directly addressed to Kaptur’s Washington D.C. office.


“I am very concerned that the adoption of these provisions could have the unintended consequence of hindering our efforts to develop the highly skilled workforce needed to advance economies in Northwest Ohio,” wrote Gaber.


Ohio State University President Michael Drake sent a similar letter.


“As you continue to work on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, I wanted to express concern over provisions that will have negative consequences for students, families and Ohioans who rely on research universities for undergraduate and graduate education,” wrote Drake.


But it wasn’t just high-powered decision makers voicing their grievances over the decisions being made on Capitol Hill.  


“We stand against this GOP tax plan,” said third-year education major Charlie Moore, head of the UT College Democrats. “It’s unfair. It’s by the rich for the rich. It’s more of the same from the GOP.”


One university official, although concerned with the provisions of the bill, found a silver lining in the array of messy tax policy.


Paul Hood, director of giving at the UT Foundation, said, although the legislation would eliminate tax deductions for these donations, he’s not worried.


“I think that most people are not motivated by taxes in their charitable giving," said Hood. “UT has enough concerned and passionate alumni and friends that contribute to us because they love the missions and the university.”


Students concerned over how the terms of the bill will affect them on the ground may follow Kaptur’s advice: “Don’t be a mushroom. Make your voice heard.”



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