Keep grad school tuition-waivers tax free

By Ben Brown

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Grad school is pretty integral for lots of people to achieve their #CareerGoals. And we need people to go to graduate school. These students become our professors, scientists and researchers, occupational therapists, and the list goes on. But grad school is expensive. Fortunately, many are able to afford grad school thanks to apprenticeships, which come with tuition-waivers. For example, a grad student might teach some undergrad classes and in exchange the university pays itself to cover tuition, often valued as $15-$50k per year. The grad student never sees that money, so it makes sense why they wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it. But the new tax plan proposes to change that by essentially creating a grad school tax.

Under the new tax plan, these tuition-waivers would now be taxed as income. So, students would suddenly be responsible for paying taxes on tens of thousands of dollars in waivers, money they never even touch. Many grad students might end up paying more in taxes than they make through cash stipends, essentially paying to work. This would make grad school out of the question for people who aren’t super rich.

Let’s face it: the American higher education system is hard on students. Getting an education is way too expensive. Non-taxable tuition-waivers are a great way to increase access to graduate school education; taxing these waivers will obviously reduce accessibility for large numbers of young people. It makes no sense to tax people on money they don’t make. Fight for affordable education. Tell your reps to keep tuition-waivers as non-taxable income!

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