When the House, with 227 Republican votes, passed its tax bill, it vowed to cut $1.5 trillion in taxes, with many of those cuts going to the richest in our country. But the bill will increase taxes for those who can afford it the least — among those, graduate students. As The Herald reported Friday, if the House bill passes through the Senate, graduate students’ waived tuition of $50,000 per year will be treated as income. That means they will be taxed in the $80,000 tax bracket rather than on the $30,000 stipends they actually receive. As the average tax per student under the new plan is estimated to exceed $16,500, graduate students would be left with only $13,000 to live on. And after paying 12-months of rent, estimated at around $600 a month in Providence for a place near campus, they’d be left with less than $6,000 a year.
Many graduate students can already barely support themselves. Low- and middle-income students struggle to enroll in graduate programs. PhD programs are often expensive — this bill would allow only the wealthiest students to pursue PhDs. That takes away from the diversity critical to a healthy academic environment. Some students who are currently pursuing PhDs may even have to end their programs, resulting in wasted money and time.
Without graduate students, the research arms of America’s top universities would be decimated. Researchers would leave for international institutions, putting a big hole in much of the groundbreaking research that comes out of America and leaving us less competitive with other countries. Our country prides itself on having some of the brightest minds in the world — let’s not give them a reason to leave.
Is this worth the $344 million dollars a year that this tax would bring in, especially when the plan would add over $1 trillion to our debt in the next 10 years? This bill would affect the 145,000 graduate students who currently qualify for tuition reduction — let’s give them a chance to stay in school.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s 127th editorial board: Lauren Aratani ’18, Matthew Brownsword ’18, Rebecca Ellis ’18 and Katharine Talerico ’18. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.