The recently passed federal House tax plan calls for the repeal of the policy by which graduate student tuition remissions are exempt from taxation. As director of a graduate program at Oregon State University, I am deeply disturbed by this proposal.
In my program, taxing tuition waivers as if it were income would push our average graduate teaching assistant's taxable wages from roughly $12,000 per year to $24,000 per year in the case of in-state students and to $35,000 per year for nonresident students.
According to my rough calculations (given the proposed $12,000 standard deduction), this would result in a tax burden of around $1,440 per year for in-state graduate teaching assistants and $2,760 per year for nonresidents. Since our grad students make about $12,000 a year, this would constitute a pay cut of between 12 percent and 23 percent of their salary.
Given the burdens that this change would create for our grad students, I fear that this proposal would jeopardize graduate education at OSU and throughout the country, leaving the pursuit of advanced degrees to only the very richest. Indeed, were such a program to have been in place when I was a graduate student, I would not have been able to finish my degree.
I urge all who care about this issue to contact Oregon’s congressional delegation to express our concerns regarding this important but under-reported issue.
Corvallis (Nov. 21)