The final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is yet to be signed by President Trump after passing both the House and the Senate, will not count graduate student tuition waivers as income.
Late last month, approximately 200 UCSD students met at Silent Tree in front of Geisel Library, to protest the initial House bill that called for taxing graduate students’ tuition waivers as income and repealing the tax deduction for student loan interest. However, the version of the bill passed by the Senate excluded most of this language and, after passing through Conference Committee, was not in the finalized version of the bill passed by both houses.
“We are relieved that the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does not include the devastating impacts on graduate students included in the original House version, and that we have won the fight to preserve tax-free tuition waivers, deductions for federal student loans, and the Lifetime Learning Credit,” said Kimberly McCabe, Vice President External Affairs for the UCSD Graduate Student Association (GSA). “These protections are vital to ensuring graduate education remains accessible and financially tenable.”
UCSD Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) was one of the few Republicans to vote no on the initial House bill. Issa was also one of 12 Republicans to vote no on the final version of the bill that had gone through Conference Committee, which no longer had either graduate specific provision.
President Trump has commited that the bill will be signed before Christmas, however, lawmakers have suggested that the bill will not be signed until at least Jan. 3.
McCabe credited UAW 2865, the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS), Student Advocates for Graduate Education (SAGE), and the UC administration, for building a coalition to challenge the tax plan. In all, around 145,000 graduate students in the United States receive tuition reduction.
“The real heroes are the individual graduate students at UCSD and across the country who made their voices heard by calling or emailing representatives, attending advocacy events, and engaging in conversations with others about how the bill would affect them personally,” McCabe said. “This victory is evidence that every voice counts and that graduate students have the ability to come together and change policy for the better.
Gabe Schneider is the News Editor at The Triton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.