With the holiday season in full swing there's one thing that's on everybody's mind: taxes.
Okay, so not everyone is thinking about the tax bill with Christmas right around the corner, but they should be, especially if they currently attend or are planning to attend college within the next eight years.
The new Republican tax bill, that worked its way through the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate, poses serious problems for those seeking higher education.
In the version of the plan that went through the House, there were two main causes for concern among those in higher education.
Firstly, the tax bill would classify graduate students’ tuition waivers — which are waivers received for teaching or research — as taxable income. This is estimated to cut a graduate student income in half, according to Politico.
Secondly, the bill would increase taxes on higher education institutions, likely resulting in raised tuition and other fees. According to USA Today, colleges are already increasing their tuition rates by double the inflation rate — a trend that has been consistent for the past decade.
These effects will only increase the divide in who can and cannot afford higher education. This plan puts an unfair disadvantage on those in the lower class while majorly cutting taxes for the top one percent.
A research study done by the American Association of University Women found since 1976 the cost of college tuition has risen by 135 percent, while the median household income has only risen by 12 percent. This has led to a large increase in student loan debt for the average American.
This tax plan would continue to grow that divide, putting average Americans seeking higher education further and further into debt.
Since Nov. 20, the Senate plan does not include taxing graduate student income as part of the plan, though it does increase taxes on higher-ed institutions. In the end, the two plans will be merged and the final version will be what's made into law, which could still include any portion of either plan.
To ensure that the final version of the plan does not contain this major tax on graduate student education, please contact your senators and local representatives and express your position. The only way to protect students is to stand up and denounce these changes before it's too late.