Office of the President

December 6, 2017

Tax bill provisions hurt students and threaten the economy

Ana Mari Cauce

Last month, I wrote about the impact that the proposed tax bills would have on families and students pursuing higher education, both here in Washington and throughout the country. Now, the U.S. Senate has approved its version of the bill, following the passage of the House of Representative’s version. Both chambers of Congress are now working to reconcile a final bill. You can get regular updates on that process on here.

Currently, both pieces of legislation remain very damaging to students, making it harder and more expensive for people to earn the very credentials they need as more and more jobs require post-secondary degrees. This is both bad for students and bad for the economy.

Among the most destructive provisions in the House bill is the repeal of the income exclusion for graduate tuition waivers. If passed, this provision would subject thousands of graduate students to a major tax increase on money they never receive (because the tuition is waived) at a time when they can least afford to pay it. The bill also punishes students who took out loans by eliminating the student-loan interest deduction, which provides real relief to students each year. These policies that increase students’ costs and discourage them from seeking the education and degrees that foster innovation, health care and research advances would also surely take us backward in a time of increasing global competitiveness.

We are seeing some positive moves, such as a group of Republican members of Congress this week calling for the graduate tuition waiver exclusion to remain intact.  But ensuring our representatives hear about the personal and societal value of higher education, and the negative effects of these tax increases, continues to be vital. I, with many UW leaders, have been in regular contact with the members of our state’s congressional delegation and continue to advocate on behalf of our students, their families and our nation’s future.  There is a lot at stake.